Peace through pinwheels

By: Lauren Weber The Placer Herald
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Friday was a celebration of peace at Sierra Elementary School in Rocklin with approximately 450 pinwheels “planted” throughout the school’s front, each created by a student in honor of International Day of Peace. Some were pink with peace signs, while others were red, white and blue with stars, but each portrayed peace in some way. Ryan Monahan’s pinwheel, had a few names inscribed: Dalai Lama, Abraham Lincoln, Anne Frank, Harriet Tubman and others. “I wrote down some people that made some differences with peace,” said the sixth-grader. Kristina Carroll, also a sixth-grader, penned the words “live” and “laugh” on her pinwheel. “I thought about the peace thing because this is a worldwide event,” Carroll said. “I like living and I like to laugh and we all do that together.” Through International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, and the nationwide event called Pinwheels for Peace, schools, organizations, businesses and individuals are encouraged to make pinwheels, place them outside and let them spin in the wind to represent peace. The event began in 2005 with 500,000 pinwheels and grew to 1.2 million pinwheels created for last year’s event. The plan was started by two Florida teachers and their idea for “whirled peace.” It quickly turned into a project embraced by their entire school community. A pinwheel was chosen because of it’s childhood symbolism – “it reminds us of a time when things were simple, joyful, peaceful,” the Pinwheels for Peace Web site states. This is the second year Sierra Elementary has taken part in the pinwheel event. Cynthia Brown, visual and performing arts teacher at the school said the idea came about from the school’s involvement in the International Baccalaureate program. “It opened our eyes,” Brown said. In her class, Brown discusses peace to coincide with International Day of Peace. “We’re trying to keep it a non-political statement,” she said. Instead, students thought about what peace means to them and portrayed that on their pinwheels through harmonious colors, peaceful pictures and symbols. Some students, like sixth-grader Shireen Mann, wrote the word peace in different languages, filling up her pinwheel. Other students took a different approach. Courtney Ochsner chose to decorate her pinwheel with flowers and wrote, “a world should be a garden (flowers are peaceful beings)” on her pinwheel. Ochsner said she chose flowers because they were a sign of peace in the ’70s. Some of the younger students had more simple approaches, but still understood the meaning of the day. When kindergarten/first grade teacher Patty Holme asked her students what the day was about, kindergartener Maya Verdugo responded immediately. “For celebrating peace day,” the 5-year-old said. Her pinwheel was colored purple, her favorite color. Within minutes, the grassy area lining the front of the school was quickly filled with pinwheels, portraying peace in creative ways.