Students of Villa Maria Academy are doing their part to spread peace, love and understanding, participating in their own 4th Annual International Day of Peace.
Each year the school celebrates the day by incorporating the message into classrooms and instruction.
For their fourth straight year Janet Cartozian, school counselor, and Janice Mastro-Pietro, campus minister, selected a ‘do your piece for peace’ theme, helping children to understand the message of cooperation to attain peace by having each individual student create a puzzle piece.
“They decorated the pieces on their own with something that represented peace to them. This just gives them a way of directly participating,” said 5th grade teacher Andrea Sullivan. “We really practice peace everyday here by following the rules and helping them to get along and be kind to one another. It starts here but then they take this message back home to their families and friends.”
Students were allowed to design and decorate the puzzle piece in their own way, and in a symbolic gesture would connect all the pieces during the ceremony held on Monday, September 21.
The day began with a prayer and presentations on historic figures that had advocated peace, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, and concluded on the outdoor field of the campus.
“We plant the seed and expect our students to go out into the world and spread the word,” said Sister Teresa Barton, principal. “These kids are the peacemakers of the future, and this is something they can relate to, putting pieces of a puzzle together.”
The 475 students gathered around the track as each class was called up to connect their own pieces on the central lawn, where the pieces would remain for the day before being moved into the school building.
“In religion class we would talk about it and how we thought of peace. I decorated mine with words of peace,” said Emily Stewart, 13. “This is important because we had a speaker come in and tell us about 9/11 and how much people gave after that, but now it changed and it shouldn’t have. There shouldn’t have to be something like that to make people help, it should just always be like that.”