International Peace Day
Sixth Grade Dedicates Peace Pole,
Learn to Respond Nonviolently
“Dona nobis pacem” (give us peace) echoed throughout Bethany Christian Schools’ Friendship Garden as sixth-graders dedicated the school’s peace pole on International Peace Day: Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. The pole reads “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in English, Korean, Spanish, and Swahili, which are some of the native languages spoken by Bethany students.
The pole, purchased by the school’s Peace Society, was installed in the Friendship Garden, which was built in memory of Kari Nunemaker, a Bethany student who was murdered in January 1991. J.D. Smucker, who was faculty sponsor when Peace Society proposed the idea of a peace pole says, “The placement of the pole was important as we wanted it to be in a location where students would see it, but also a place that is appropriate to gather for prayer and express peace and forgiveness.”
The idea for the pole arose from discussions on how the Peace Society could impact the school and symbolize who we are as a community. Smucker says, “There used to be a sign near our school that said Goshen is a place where different people (cultures) can live together. Unfortunately this has not always been the case. So to have a symbol of peace in our school is one way for people to be reminded that our school is a community in which we do more than just tolerate each other. We are a community striving to be Christ-like in how we relate to each other and people we do not agree with.”
The dedication also included a litany, a peace rap created by several students (see below), several songs, and decorating the pole with origami peace cranes students made while learning about Sadako, whose story has become an inspiration for school children world-wide to fold cranes in a wish for peace.
In addition to dedicating the peace pole, the sixth grade class observed International Peace Day by integrating peace activities and learning into their various classes. Steve Thomas of Goshen’s Peacemakers Academy engaged the students in hands-on activities that helped them think of creative ways to confront violent situations nonviolently or to prevent violent situations from happening by learning to work together. After talking about Paul's message in Philippians 2:4: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others," students played a simulation game in which they quickly learned that they all got more candy when they worked together than when they focused on how much each person could get on their own. In another session they learned how different personality styles tend to react differently to violence and identified their own style.
Peace Rap (chorus and one verse)
I said a peace today, I said a peace today
All the gangsters in the house say a peace today
So live your life the peaceful way.
Once I knew a boy who was constantly bad,
But then we made peace so it wasn’t so bad.
Now he’s my homey to the very peaceful end
So make peace with everyone and they will be your friend.