Our community schools are building bridges to bring the celebration of International Peace Day to life for students. Spearheaded by 1st grade teacher Donna Barney Nicholson and former parent Karen Wooldridge, Pennekamp Elementary partnered with Emerson Elementary in Compton to create the Peace Day PAL Program during the 2020/21 school year. Through funding from an MBEF Social Inclusion Grant, the effort began with the erection of a Peace Pole at each school commemorating their participation in International Peace Day on September 21, 2020.
A PEACE Pole is an internationally recognized symbol of hope sanctioned by the United Nations that stands for PEACE on earth. There are estimated 250,000 PEACE Poles in every country in the world. The Peace Poles at Pennekamp and Emerson are a symbol for peace and serve as a reminder of the Peace Day PAL partnership between the schools. They are in portable stands so they can be moved to any classroom or special event area and include the following inscriptions on each side of the pole:
-May Peace Be in Our Hearts
-May Peace Be in Our Schools
-May Peace Be in Our Communities
-May Peace Prevail on Earth
The Peace Day celebration at the school sites included a dedication of the pole by the school principals, Dr. Karina Gerger of Pennekamp Elementary and Mrs. Lakisha Moore of Emerson Elementary through a live broadcast on YouTube Live. In addition, the theme of the event continued with student interviews and art projects from both schools in response to the question, “What Does Peace Mean to Me?”.
As a result, the two local schools have initiated a strong connection that will grow over time. Pennekamp’s 3rd Grade Teacher, Suzanne Tynan, was thrilled with the outcome, “I feel like (this) is just the beginning of a special partnership with Emerson Elementary. Our goal is to develop an ongoing relationship between our two schools in a school-wide Peace PAL Program. Thank you MBEF for supporting the new Peace PALS program.”
Teachers at Pennekamp and Emerson Elementary continue to have access to enriching Peace Day lessons and resources at their schools through the Stand4Peace website, an organization created by Donna Barney Nicholson and Karen Wooldridge. The resources include a Peace Day Pledge and conflict resolution lessons focused on four simple steps: breathe slowly, listen carefully, share openly, and resolve respectfully. Principal Gerger and Principal Moore believe the Peace Day PAL Program is a great vehicle to further unite the two communities of different areas and ethnic backgrounds.
The success of the program introduced by Donna and Karen and Stand4Peace has inspired the dedication of a Peace Pole by the Manhattan Beach City Council as well. This evening, September 9th, the entire community is invited for a special ceremony focused on peace in our homes, schools and community on the southwest side of the Manhattan Beach Civic Center Plaza at 5pm.
Stand4Peace is also supporting the United Nation’s International Day of Peace Theme: Recovering Better for a Sustainable and Equitable World with a local beach clean-up on Saturday, September 18th from 9-12pm near the Manhattan Beach Pier in collaboration Heal the Bay and the Roundhouse Aquarium.
International Peace Day provides a powerful opportunity to consider the concept of PEACE and how we can build PEACE in our everyday world with small and large actions. The PEACE Day PALS program in our schools will be the vehicle that helps to continue this special day’s message throughout the year. It is MBEF’s goal that all successful Social Inclusion Grants are implemented throughout the district. Please visit MBEF Social Inclusion Grants for further details. All applications must be submitted by October 1, 2021.