Baldwinsville: Sixth-graders memorialize friend

A group of Baldwinsville sixth-graders are memorializing a friend with a special art project at Ray Middle School. Wayne Dodge, who would have been a sixth-grader at the school this year, passed away in December 2010. Several of his classmates decided the best way to honor his memory would be to create a symbol of his spirit. To do this, they are making clay tiles with etchings of cranes on them that they will assemble as a collage and hang in the middle school.

Wayne's friends chose the crane because they feel that it symbolizes hope. Sixth-grader Jacob Bardenett explained that there is a Japanese legend about a sick person making paper cranes.

"If you make one thousand paper cranes you will be granted a wish," he noted.

He and eight of his classmates conceived the idea of using the crane on the memorial tiles after reading the book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. The book is the true story of a young Japanese girl who developed leukemia from the radiation of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She spent her last days folding paper cranes, hoping to be granted her wish to be healthy again.

Wayne's friends will not be creating one thousand tiles, but, as Bardenett explained, the tiles they create will honor Wayne's artistic spirit because he loved to draw. He was also generous and would give away his drawings to anyone who asked for one.

Besides Bardenett, students working on the memorial are Jody Allen, Amanda Byrns,

Tyler Bausch, Miranda Clark, James Coomey, Maia Falise, Destiny Gardner and

Paul Schmid. School social worker Jill Joseph is overseeing the students' efforts to create the memorial. They meet after school to work on the project. They are also working under the supervision of art teacher Debra Lynch.

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