1000 Cranes for Carver

Problem: Carver Middle is the only school in the area that does not put on a play due to a lack of funding and personnel.

Solution: As part of the STEAM Garden being installed in front of Carver’s campus, students will put on A Thousand Cranes in the Spring of 2018.


  • Perform A Thousand Cranes  in May 2018 at the STEAM Garden
  • Fold 1000 cranes between January and May
  • Connect college theatre programs to Carver and to each other
  • Get Carver students interested and engaged in theatre
  • Big Goal: create a sustainable theatre program at Carver

Backstory: A Thousand Cranes is based on the story of Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was diagnosed with leukemia nine years later, the disease lying dormant for that long. She died on October 25, 1955, and since then tens of millions of cranes have been folded and sent to her monument in Hiroshima Peace Park, which was unveiled in 1958.

Between July 2016 and August 2017 Kelsey Leahy completed her own 1000 Cranes Project, and she wants to use the installation to raise awareness and funds for Carver to have a sustainable theatre program. In November 2017 she submitted the piece to ArtFields, and if the piece is chosen as a winner 80% of the award money will be given to Carver Middle School. (The grand prize is $50,000.) As of December 20, the piece has been accepted into the program. Kelsey teaches private oboe lessons through the Lawson Academy and has been teaching a student at Carver for the last few years; that plus the work she is doing with Success Initiative out of Project Hub Spartanburg across the street from Carver has focused her attention on the Southside. Additional funding will be pursued through the Aurand Harris Grant.

Kelsey will take her cranes on a tour of the schools during January as a way to introduce the project and participants to the different communities involved. The Wofford library has agreed to have a showing, the Petrie School of Music would be a good location at Converse, and the Studio Theatre at USC Upstate would be a good setting to present the project. The cranes will then go to Carver Middle and will be displayed there until further notice from ArtFields to draw more attention to the school.

The stage built by Will Nowatka as his Eagle Scout project. The stage is currently located in the STEAM Garden and is awaiting the irrigation system to be put in place to be properly installed.

Key Players:

  • Kelsey Leahy: Project Coordinator, Executive Secretary of Success Initiative
  • Layla Thurman: Junior Theatre and History student at Converse College
  • Professor Melissa Owens: Chair of Department of Theatre and Dance, Converse College
  • Khalil Gamble: Sophomore Theatre and Humanities Student at Wofford College
  • Dr. Mark Ferguson: Department Chair and Director of the Wofford Theatre
  • Dexter Simmons:  Senior Theatre major, minor in Speech Communication at USC Upstate
  • Professor Lee Neibert: Assistant Professor of Theatre, USC Upstate
  • Tessa Russell: Dramaturge, Converse College Alum, Musical Theatre Major
  • Nicole Thompson: Principal of Carver Middle School
  • Laney Alverson: CEO and Founder of Project Hub Spartanburg 

Pictured above (L-R): Khalil Gamble from Wofford, Layla Thurman from Converse, and Dexter Simmons from USC-Upstate


Contact Kelsey Leahy at leahykb@gmail.com or 864.580.6506 to get involved!

Comments are closed.