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Students help create 'Pinwheels for Peace'

info@islandpacket.comOctober 8, 2010 

Thanks to the Riverview Charter School for sharing the story of its "Pinwheels for Peace" project in commemoration of International Peace Day on Sept. 21.

The story behind International Peace Day is an inspirational one.

Jeremy Gilley, a documentary filmmaker, had an idea to establish an annual day of global ceasefire and nonviolence, a mission he titled "Peace One Day."

Remarkably, he was able to achieve his mission when the 192 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted Sept. 21 as an annual day of global ceasefire and nonviolence on the U.N. International Day of Peace.

How can one day make a difference? Gilley's goal was to use the day as "a platform for life-saving activities around the world and an opportunity for individuals -- particularly young people -- to become involved in the peace process."

On this date, more than 1.4 million children have been vaccinated, and supplies are distributed safely around the globe because of the ceasefire.

Weezy Alcott, Riverview's visual arts teacher, was inspired by the "Peace One Day" project and set out to find a way for Riverview students to "become involved in the peace process" and commit to finding peaceful solutions in their lives.

Spinning off an idea that was started by two art teachers in Florida, Alcott invited Riverview students to participate in an integrated art project called Pinwheels for Peace.

"Part of Riverview's mission is to create engaged, global citizens and to teach through integration," she said. "Pinwheels for Peace gave me a launching point to integrate the mechanics of drawing lines and curves with geometry, symmetry and measurement. It opened the door for conversations about global issues and humanity. Many of our students have family members serving in the war, and we wanted to recognize the sacrifices they are making to create a more peaceful world."

Each student created a pinwheel as a symbolic representation of peace. A total of 304 whirling pinwheels were displayed on Riverview's school grounds as staff and students gathered to commemorate International Peace Day with a moment of silence.

Austin Jimenez, a fifth-grader, said he thought about his father during the moment of silence.

"My dad is in Afghanistan, and I thought about his safety," Austin said.

Second-grader Julianna Lane also thought about her father, who is serving overseas.

"I prayed for my dad and that everything would be OK," Julianna said.

Students will further explore the question "What will you do to make peace?" in a culminating art project that will be permanently displayed at Riverview.

"If you start with this generation, it can be the beginning of many more days of peace," Alcott said.

Third-grader Claire Bowden noted one of Riverview's core values when she said, "If everyone would cooperate, the world would be peaceful."

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