- School News
Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Stone Ridge community has been deeply involved in various actions all over campus and beyond. It all began with faculty, staff, and students reciting the Lenten Rosary for Peace on Mondays and Thursdays, thanks to the initiative of Emily Hammack ’23. Sisters Mao ’23 and Rena ’28 Kobayashi led the Senbazuru project in the Middle and Upper Schools, and Lower School students Vivian Lee ’31 and Tatum Larrabee’s ’31 idea to collect donations for the people of Ukraine transformed into an all-school event.
World Central Kitchen Day
Vivian Lee ’31 and Tatum Larrabee ’31 were shocked when they heard that their idea for a wishing well to collect donations for the World Central Kitchen (WCK) expanded into a community-wide effort on April 7. In true Stone Ridge fashion, once word got out, the community rallied and created multiple ways to support the cause. Through the collective effort of students, faculty, and staff, Stone Ridge raised $6,146. This total includes a $750 donation from the Stone Ridge Parents Association (SRPA) and additional funds from students who rallied their Girl Scout Troops (Grade 7 Troop #34050 and Grade 6 Troop #34120) to donate a combined total of $740 of their cookie sales to help the cause. All donations benefited SR parent, chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen in Ukraine providing meals for those caught in the Russia-Ukraine war. “This was such an amazing community-wide show of support for the important work happening in Poland, Ukraine, and the surrounding countries,” says Director of Institutional Advancement Melissa Prather. “Our donations will be wrapped in prayers to those in need and the volunteers and service workers dedicated to supporting them.”
Living out our Sacred Heart Goal III, a social awareness that impels to action and Goal IV, the building of community as a Christian value.
The day’s activities included the original idea, by Vivian ’31 and Tatum ’31, “Pennies for Ukraine” wishing well in Lower School. Middle School held a bake sale and lemonade stand during breaks and recess, and Upper School hosted a “Tag Day” for students and employees to make a donation for a free dress day in blue and yellow to show their support for Ukraine.
The spirit of action and community has also been noted in our alumnae like Kristin Irani ’88, Global Purchasing Manager for World Central Kitchen, helping to feed those in need in Poland, and Inés Andrés ’19 with alumnae parent Cindy Flannery (mother of Charlotte Flannery ’19) traveling to Poland to assist in serving meals and logistics for the operations.
When the Russian attack on Ukraine began, Mao Kobayashi ’23 felt the urge to act and show solidarity for the Ukrainian people. She immediately thought of making Senbazuru—a chain of 1000 origami cranes. In Japanese culture, folding 1000 cranes brings good fortune and is a “way to express empathy,” Mao says. She was inspired by a similar gesture Ukrainian people made in 2011 when she lived in Japan and the country was devastated by a tsunami 40.5 meters high following the Tōhoku earthquake. “The destruction of nuclear power plants impacted the whole country both economically and socially. During that time of despair, the gift from Ukraine reminded us that we were not alone. Personally, I remember clearly my seven-year-old self being touched by their heartwarming gesture,” Mao recounts. She says it “was heartbreaking to witness how the lives of Ukrainian citizens dramatically changed in a single day, their home country no longer a place of safety,” remembering the effects of such life-altering events.
Mao shared these memories and her idea with her sister Rena Kobayashi ’28. Rena gladly jumped on board, “I wanted to encourage [the Ukrainian people], but also thank them for the encouragement in the past,” she says. When their friends and teachers found out about the project, the Stone Ridge community rallied behind the two sisters to see the project through. In Middle School, Religion teachers Lauren Winkler and Sally Ingram created time in their classes for students, as Mao enlisted friends during free periods, to learn the practice and fold cranes.
Folding 1000 cranes may feel like a daunting task. Rena shares that holding feelings of love and compassion for Ukrainian people helped get through the process, in addition to the tremendous support from their classmates and teachers. Rena was also excited to share Japanese culture with others in the process. Students finished the Senbazuru by stringing the cranes together. Some of the cranes were destined for the Ukrainian embassy and others were presented to a local Ukrainian church. As the Senbazuru reached its final stages, Mao reflected, “I think the value that this project possesses is that each one of our cranes has been created with much prayer and compassion for the people of Ukraine and by so many members of our community.”