PERU - Middle school and high school students in the Peru Central School District have made their message clear - give peace a chance.
The students came together recently to create 175 pinwheels as part of "Pinwheels for Peace," an art installation project started in 2005 by art teachers Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan of Coconut Creek, Fla. The project was created as a way for students to express their feelings about events in the world and in their own lives. The project was brought to the school district last year by art teacher Jennifer Winternitz, who has since taken a teaching position with the Ausable Valley Central School District. Though Winternitz was no longer with the Peru school district, art teacher Tracey Laundry said she felt it was important to keep the tradition going.
"We felt it was important because it's a multi-curriculum kind of project where we involve a writing piece where they could write a poem or a haiku or a short essay about their feelings about peace," explained Laundry. "We just wanted to get the kids minds on nonviolence and how tolerance and intolerance affects people."
The week-long project involved not only writing about peace and designing pinwheels, but also planting the pinwheels on the school grounds Sept. 21, which is recognized as the International Day for Peace, explained Laundry. The planting culminates the project by giving a sharp visual effect which Laundry said is nonpolitical but strong nonetheless.
"It felt great," Laundry said of seeing the number of pinwheels created and seeing students get excited about participating.
Sixth-grade student Audrey Ampomah said she enjoyed taking part in the project, which sent a clear message.
"I enjoyed it because we sent a message throughout the world of peace," said Ampomah. "That there should be no war."
Lillian Mann-Lucas, another sixth-grade student, said the project was "really fun because the whole sixth grade got to participate."
"We actually had a lot of fun making our pinwheels, designing our own peace signs and writing our feelings out on them," said Mann-Lucas. "Like Audrey said, there should be no war - only peace all the time,"
The pinwheels sent a peaceful and aesthetically-pleasing message, said the girls, yet one Ampomah felt should also be a stern message to those who plan violent attacks such as the events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001.
"For all the people that are trying to attack us and for all the people who attacked the Twin Towers, shame on you," she said. "They should feel bad for hurting our country. Nobody should attack us or anybody else. We should have peace throughout the world."
In addition to the pinwheels created in the Peru school district, Laundry said Winternitz continued the project at Ausable Valley, with students there creating approximately 100 pinwheels there.