“Be steady and well-ordered in your life so you can be fierce and original in your work.”
A French novelist may have first said these true ringing words, but they describe the merits of the students of the Fredericktown High School Anime class through the BASE.
This class has students who are interested in Japanese culture, learn more about it and become engrossed in this respectful land of the rising sun twice a week in an array of interactive and entertaining ways.
It being the second year for the club, the sensei of this class, fellow Fredericktown teacher and lover of this fine Eastern world, Morgan Comnick, wanted to give them an once-in-a-lifetime experience they would never forget and she just so happens to be good friends with a trained, modern samurai.
The students of this BASE class had to think outside the box and show their style, deciding to make and sell origami paper cranes they made after studying the touching story of Sadako Sasaki, a twelve-year-old girl who died of cancer due to radiation poisoning leftover from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She aspired to complete the task of making one-thousand paper cranes, which, according to Japanese lore, will grant a wish of peace and healing.
Her drive and perseverance inspired these young adults and thanks to a lot of time, creativity, a supportive school and district, and help from several community sources, the students were able to raise the money to attain their guest and make a one-hundred dollar donation to St. Jude’s to give peace and hope to sick children like Ms. Sadako.
November 15, Dan Coglan, known around the country as “Samurai Dan,” and his five-month-old Japanese Akita named Kiba came to grace the lunchroom of FHS as his stage. Usually accompanied with his wife, Lady Jillian, this dynamic duo is known for teaching classes at their dojo with their 20 years of experience and, nationwide, for their interactive sword fighting classes, stage shows, Akita love, self-defense courses, historical and weapons presentations, all with an engaging performance presence and comedy that will have audiences learning and rolling on the floor at the same time. And, boy, the anime class got the full treatment.
The students were engrossed their hour and forty minute time, learning how to bow properly, getting to witness and absorb the majesty and history of a seven-hundred-year old katana, known as the water dragon, and see it slice through a wet bamboo mat like a champion (and they even got chunks of it as souvenirs).
In addition, the students were paired up and learned formal samurai fighting techniques with wooden swords after viewing a step-by-step demonstration where their sensei, Mrs. Comnick, got to verse Mr. Coglan.
They learned two self-defense moves which will benefit anyone to feel safe and they adored the service dog in training and loveable pup "Kiba" before thanking their guests with a samurai hat as a gift.
Coglan told Comnick her students were extremely well-behaved and he was pleasantly surprised at how supportive the Fredericktown R-1 school district was, especially with bringing his treasured sword in, something he normally never gets to do in schools.
The Anime BASE club, through this experience, gained not only a rare experience into their interest and another culture, but about compassion, work ethic, and how to be a warrior for others in their own unique way and by always being themselves. This guest speaker has made them sharper than Coglan’s water dragon katana and they cannot wait to start fundraising for their next semester adventure.