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North Elementary students define peace

September 29, 2011
By Kathleen Palumbo
A project initiated in 2005 by two art teachers, Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan of Coconut Creek, Fla., Pinwheels for Peace is an art installation project that began as a means for students to express their feelings about their lives and the world in which they live.

According to their website,, in its first year, Pinwheels for Peace included groups in more than 1,325 locations throughout the world, with approximately 500,000 pinwheels spinning on Sept. 21.

Fast forward to its sixth year in 2010, and more than 3.5 million pinwheels were spinning in more than 3,500 locations including the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, Middle East, Africa, and South America. Poland’s North Elementary School joined the peace train this year.

According to Tracy Kaschak, principal of North Elementary School, the students were recently asked their definition of “peace.” Not looking for a dictionary definition, but “It’s just what is peace to you,” Kaschak said she explained to them. In addition, they read together, “Finding Peace,” by Amy Ayers, which follows one young girl on her own search for peace.

To North Elementary student Olivia Rosenberg, peace means “being calm, without anybody bugging you,” while Ben McElhinny described it as “calmness, no violence, and watching the clouds.”

On the website and in information provided by Kaschak, the project is described as non-political, meant to encourage students to think of what peace means to them, and realize that when all is said and done, it all comes down to a simple definition: “a state of calm and serenity, with no anxiety, the absence of violence, freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people.”

As part of the project, students create pinwheels of all shapes and sizes and are then encouraged to write their thoughts about peace in general on one side. On the other side, they are asked to draw, paint, collage, etc. to demonstrate their feelings.

While gathered together on the International Day of Peace, the pinwheels are then “planted,” as both a public statement and art exhibit, and as the pinwheels spin in the wind, symbolize the spread of thoughts and feelings about peace throughout the world.

The students of North Elementary began small with their own thoughts and feelings, but without realizing, with their participation in Pinwheels for Peace, became part of a much bigger picture as they accomplished what is asked of participants; to imagine “whirled peace.”

Article Photos

Photos by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
Students from North Elementary School’s third and fourth grade classes take a moment to enjoy the color, movement, and most importantly, the message of the pinwheels they created and displayed on Sept. 21, in their school-wide celebration of International Day of Peace. Pictured are students Zachary Chachko, Charlie Kish, Gia Almasy, Alivia Stefek, Jillian Phillips, Kimberly Gulling, Olivia Rosenberg, Emma Battaglia, Ben McElhinny, Mason McCurdy, Alyssa Jenkins, and Daniel Dellick.



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