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"Finale in Florida Beach Party!"


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On Friday, December 22nd, at 11:30 a.m. EST, our class had a beach party, to celebrate the cranes' touch down at their winter home, near Dunnellon, Florida!  We pulled out all the stops, with two-metre tall palm tree decorations, crane hats, "Craniac" t-shirts, shorts, flip flops, Beach Boys music, games, a cell phone, for making calls to Operation Migration and Journey North from the party, fruit, a half-slab cake (decorated with a Whooping Crane in flight), gummy worms (in honour of the cranes, who love eating mealworms) and various other snacks!



The first part of our party involved an awards ceremony.  We presented the crane chicks with "winner medals," to celebrate the completion of their first southbound migration.  The eighteen members of our paper mache "symbolic flock" accepted the medals, on their behalf.  

The cheerleader for each crane also received a medal, for doing a great job keeping track of his/her chick, over the course of the migration, and for jumping into our migration project with both feet!

Cranes 601, 602 and 604 with their cheerleaders

Cranes 605, 606 and 607 with their cheerleaders
My daughter (far right), who is in Grade 1 at Harriett Todd P.S., 
accepted my cheerleader medal, on my behalf

Cranes 608, 610 and 611 with their cheerleaders

Cranes 612, 613 and 614 with their cheerleaders

Cranes 615, 618 and 619 with their cheerleaders

Cranes 620, 622 and 623 with their cheerleaders


Our next three medals were presented to Operation Migration's Chris Danilko, Liz Condie and Joe Duff (and his amazing migration field team!).  

Chris won the Whooping Crane Central "Jack of All Trades/Juggler Extraordinaire Award," for single-handedly keeping all the balls in the air, at the Operation Migration office, for over three weeks, while everyone else was in the field!  

Liz won the "Hardest Working Woman in Migration Award."  She told me her work hours, during migration, were from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.  One day, I called to ask her a question at 5:20 a.m. (yes, a.m.) and she'd already been up, and working, for two hours!  

Joe and the field team won the "Patience and Persistence Award," for the obvious reason... they endured seventy-six days in the field, en route from Wisconsin to Florida, with the flock of young cranes!  Fifty-four of these days were "no fly days" when wind or weather stopped them in their tracks.  

A nineteenth paper mache crane, that the class constructed as a thank you gift for Operation Migration, accepted the medals on their behalf.

The students who presented Operation Migration's Awards

Operation Migration's "Thank You Crane" Sporting their Medals
(wings by Amy, paint job by Theresa, grass by Tallon & Co.)

Everyone signed the back of this crane's wings



NOTE:  On January 3rd, Mrs. Black delivered Operation Migration's paper mache crane to their office, in Port Perry, Ontario.  She also presented Chris, Liz and Joe with their winner medals, a DVD of our class' medal presentation and some cake from our party:

Chris Danilko

Joe Duff and Liz Condie



Our final award was the Whooping Crane Central "Journalist of the Year Award."  The nominees were Amy Lazar of the Orillia Packet and Times newspaper, Jane Duden of the Journey North educational website and Rick Clendinning of A-Channel Television.  The award went to Jane Duden, for her exemplary coverage of the 2006 migration and for sharing our class project with students across North America!

Crane 607 and I accepted Jane's medal, on her behalf



NOTE:  On January 11th, Jane Duden e-mailed to say that the winner medal, DVD of our class' medal presentation, plate with a picture of our cake, and other party paraphernalia that we mailed to her, had arrived at her home in Minneapolis:

Jane Duden, pictured with the party items our class sent to her



After the awards ceremony, we all enjoyed some refreshments.  We want to thank Patrisha's Mom for making the awesome half-slab crane cake!  


Next, we played some games.  In between rounds of Twister, etc., we used a cell phone to call Liz, Chris and Joe, in Port Perry, and Jane, in Minneapolis, and chant their names repeatedly, and loudly, in their ears!  We also read them the letter that arrived the morning of the party, informing us that ExxonMobil will be donating $2,500. to Operation Migration, in response to the letters students wrote urging them to help. What a great finale to a wonderful class project!


This has been SUCH a ride! Operation Migration and Journey North have given the kids and I a memory that we will cherish throughout the rest of our lives! As I said to A-Channel Television reporter Rick Clendinning, "Years from now, this migration... this project... is what I'll be talking about, from my wheelchair, in the nursing home!!"


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