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Shaker High School pays tribute to late student with origami crane exhibit

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LATHAM (WRGB) – Shaker High School is honoring a student who passed away this week, with a meaningful art exhibit.

Farhan Afzal passed away Monday. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010.

“In Arabic, the name Farhan means ‘joyous’, and one thing we have seen, is he brought joy to everyone he touched,” Farhan’s father Afzal Mohammed told us.

This week, the high school hung hundreds of origami cranes in the art wing, as a tribute to Farhan. He had a passion for origami and the paper birds.

Farhan was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010 when he was in the 6th grade. At the time, he was reading a book about a Japanese girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia. There was a Japanese belief if you made a thousand origami cranes, you'd be granted a wish. So, Farhan's teacher used this story to create a special project after Farhan’s first surgery.

“She made 999 cranes, that all the kids in school made for Farhan, and told Farhan to make the last one,” Mohammed said. And that’s how Farhan’s love for origami and cranes began.

“He called himself ‘the origami king’,” Farhan’s mother Naz Afzal said. They said he carried paper in his pocket and made cranes for people, wherever he went.

When Farhan got to high school he shared his love with his art class, and created this video lesson, for making the paper birds.

It soon developed into a bigger lesson, with a big goal in mind. “After I saw the passion Farhan had for the origami, and the story behind it, I realized this was a ‘pay it forward’ moment," art teacher Paul Aubin said.

The class started working towards making one thousand cranes for an installation to be put in Albany Medical Center.

The class is still working toward its goal. But now this visual tribute, and Farhan's spirit, will be the driving force behind the art project.

“It's hope, it's caring, it's to know a thousand people are behind you when you're sick,” Aubin said.

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“I want to continue his legacy. I want to continue the peace, the happiness that he brought to us and others, to everyone. We want to bring it forward,” Mohammed said.

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