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Washington County students reflect on meaning of peace

September 23, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- With news headlines telling of bombings, war and stock market volatility, students in Washington County took time Monday to reflect on simple things they could do to promote peace.

Russell Ragland, 8, said being peaceful means not using bad language.

His Winter Street Elementary School classmate, Matthew Walker, said he celebrates peace by being nice to others. He also tries to be helpful, he said.

Students across Washington County celebrated the International Day of Peace by creating pinwheels in art classes and lining up their creations in front of their schools. Participating schools included Winter Street, Rockland Woods, Maugansville and Bester elementary schools.

"It's a good opportunity for kids to understand what peace means," Winter Street Principal Matthew Semler said.

About 100 third- and fourth-grade students at Winter Street Elementary decorated the fronts of their pinwheels with words about peace and covered the backs with illustrations. They attached the pinwheels to pencils and stuck them into the ground.

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The International Day of Peace, which was Sunday, was established by a United Nations Resolution in 1981. A more recent resolution added that the day be a global cease-fire.

Local schools have participated for several years in Pinwheels for Peace, a project started in 2005. This was the first time Winter Street has taken part, said Julie Cantrel, an art teacher at the school.

"With everything that's going on in the world, peace is an important topic to explain," she said. "It's about how they can be peaceful in their lives."

For Matthew, a fourth-grader, he said that means keeping the street clean and not littering.

Leighann Snyder, 8, a Winter Street third-grader, said being peaceful means being nice to others. She's hoping that people will notice the pinwheels outside of her school and be inspired.

"They'll want to be more peaceful," she said.

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