‘Whirled peace'

| 22 Feb 2012 | 01:54

George Grant Mason School is part of ‘International Day of Peace” efforts, By Nancy Kriz TUXEDO - About 275 brightly colored pinwheels, arranged in the shape of a giant peace sign, decorated the hillside lawn of George Grant Mason School along Route 17 in Tuxedo on Tuesday. The pinwheels were placed on that site earlier that day by GGM students in kindergarten through the eighth- grade. Their artistic creations were part of the annual international “Pinwheels for Peace” art and literacy installation project, now in its fifth year. It’s a way for students to express their ideas about peace. The project’s goal is to place pinwheels in as many locations as possible globally. Tuxedo was one of them. As the gentle wind blew throughout the day, passersby could see the pinwheels whirl as the breeze caught their edges at just the right moment. Though cars, trucks and occasional commuter trains created noise along Route 17, the pinwheels spun silently, sending out the students’ reflective message to whoever spotted them. Peace. The pinwheel project is a component of International Day of Peace ceremonies, which took place worldwide last Tuesday. “Peace Day,” as it’s known, provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. ‘Day of Ceasefire’ as well It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly (which opened this week in New York). The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982. In 2002 the General Assembly officially declared Sept. 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. Additionally, according to Cindy Lyons, the school’s art teacher who coordinated the program, organizers also consider Peace Day as a “Day of Ceasefire” - whether it’s for personal or political reasons. “Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time,” said Lyons to the almost 300 students, faculty and parents who gathered in front of the school prior to the placing of pinwheels on the hillside lawn. “Imagine what a whole day of ceasefire would mean to humankind.” Environmental art The GGM ceremony was marked with songs, writings and student art commemorating peace. Representatives from each grade spoke about their thoughts on the day. Younger students kept their ideas simple, with one first-grader offering a down-to-earth three word comment probably spoken in many households at one time or another: “Peace … and quiet.” Older students selected poems and quotes from prominent public and historical figures to commemorate the day. Later, some offered their own reflections. “It feels good to have a day of peace,” said seventh-grader Yannis Lymberis. “The pinwheels symbolize each person and what their feelings are about peace.” Sixth-grader Sidney Bewlay had similar notions. “It’s fun to make pinwheels,” she said. “But it’s serious too because we’re talking about having no more wars. The colors in these pinwheels represent now nice the world would be if there were no more wars.” Lyons felt the day also offered students a chance to express themselves with what she called “environmental art” as individuals and as a group. “I told them, “For one day, you can change the environment of the Grant-Baker schools,’” Lyons said. “The big kids enjoyed it (the environmental art opportunity) as much as the little kids who were happy to see their pinwheels blow in the wind. I think it would be great if they took away a sense they could change the world … their own small world … through a change in their behavior.” ‘How much peace we can make’ When formal comments concluded, students were told to place their pinwheels into the ground. Older students instinctively helped the little ones and later re-configured the pinwheels so they were placed equi-distant from each other. As student returned to their classes, Sidney took another look at the large pinwheel covered, peace sign. While some waited for the breeze to catch their edges, others whirled on their own. “If they all blew (in the wind) at once,” she said, “we would see how much peace we can make.”