America in 2023 is a vastly different world than it was even just a few years ago. Political tensions, social media content, bullying and immigration crackdowns, to name a few, have left many people in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety.
But students in Harrison — many of whom trace their own cultural roots throughout countries such as Peru, China, Ecuador and Poland, made a visual stand for peace by spinning over 1,000 custom pinwheels — with expressive and artistic messages of peace, tolerance, and living in harmony in celebration of International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.
“I think peace is something the world needs right now — a break from all the stress and fighting. Peace is needed to bring the world together and unite as one,” eighth-grader Johanthon Morejon said.
Students from Kennedy and Lincoln elementary schools, Hamilton Intermediate School and Washington Middle School, planted their brightly colored pinwheels in the shape of a massive 150 ft+ peace sign — a truly amazing sight to behold.
Harrison Superintendent of Schools Superintendent Maureen Kroog said: “All of our students in grades Pre-K through eighth-grade participated and even included the Harrison High School Soundwaves band. It truly is a great day to see the students excitedly walking over to Library Park with their pinwheels, which they made and decorated themselves with the help of our staff including the STEAM and art teachers. This is a wonderful way to start the school year—by coming together to celebrate peace, and by beautifying the community with their pinwheels with messages of hope, peace, and unity.”
Perhaps Washington Middle School Principal Kevin Stahl summed it up best.
“Peace is something we all long for,” he said. “It is more important than ever to teach peace in our schools. We are equipping future generations with the tools and resources they will need to be a successful society. We need to be able to find peace within ourselves, within the relationships we have with others, and within the world around us.”
Pinwheels for Peace is an art installation project started in 2005 by art educators in Florida as a way for students to express their feelings about the conflicts that are becoming commonplace. Last year, a staggering 4.5 million pinwheels were spinning in over 3,500 locations, including the United States, Europe and Asia.