Peace can begin with just one person – even if that person is a seventh-grade student at Bexley Middle School.
Making symbolic flags and listening to music filled with peaceful messages, students in Elizabeth Jax’s and Mindy Hall’s seventh-grade humanities classes joined others around the world Sept. 21 in celebrating International Peace Day.
Markers in hand, they decorated yellow, white, red, green and blue peace flags fashioned after the Tibetan prayer flag. Each held its own message of peace, to be hung this week outside of the Cassingham Complex as a reminder to everyone who passes underneath them.
“They are hung outside to spread a message of peace in the wind, then they are left there to decompose and become a part of the environment,” Jax said.
This is the third year seventh-graders at the school have participated in International Peace Day.
“I think it’s nice that we’re doing this and showing everyone who walks under it to be peaceful,” said Katie Grunewald, 12.
International Peace Day was launched by the United Nations in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. 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. The day’s mission is to promote both personal and planetary peace.
“At Bexley Middle School, each seventh-grader makes a flag as a reminder to live their own lives peacefully,” Jax said.
She said class discussions revolved around how they, as students, can affect peace.
“If we tell people peace is the answer, they’ll tell others and then it will just spread around,” said Jack Haseley, 13. “We can inspire people throughout our community.”
The day also connects nicely with the district’s curriculum. Seventh-grade students are studying world history and cultures this year and currently are delving into Islam.
As students worked on their flags last week in Jax’s class, they listened to Middle Eastern music on streaming radio, discussing the idea of world peace – and whether it is attainable.
“It really depends on people’s attitude and how they look at it,” said Samantha Katz, 12. “If we can all explain to each other why there should be world peace, then we all can make it happen – if we all work together and understand why.”
In Hall’s class, students there listened to Michael Jackson sing words of peace as they designed and created on their own flags.
“It’s taught me to really reflect on my life,” said Audrey Mapley, 12, adding the activity helped her to look beyond her own comfort zone into other cultures. “We should really appreciate what we’ve got.”
This year’s theme for the International Day of Peace was “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future.”
Nations and governing bodies around the world joined together in a call for peace through a range of activities including cease-fires, proclamations and pledges for humanitarian aid.
Educational institutions, such as Bexley’s schools, used the day as an opportunity to teach peace and nonviolence and to organize local events and activities.