Pupils envision a world of peace

Dreams: At Sandymount Elementary, a monthlong project to mark the new year concludes with a `global' celebration of what world peace might look like.

January 30, 2000|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Acting on their hopes for the world in the year ahead and beyond, Sandymount Elementary School pupils created a Kingdom of Peace on Friday.

Dressed in their ideas of what people will wear in the future, the pupils sang songs, recited poems and celebrated the dream of peace.

The program, planned by a team of five Sandymount teachers, is one of several activities this month designed to mark 2000.

"We wanted to do something for the year 2000," said guidance counselor Andy Yount, who created the month's activities with music teacher Norma Brown, media specialist Karen Boggs, art teacher Jennifer Yust and physical education teacher Robin Stansbury.

"We decided we would talk to the kids about peace and ways that we could have a peaceful 2000 and future," Yount said. "It took a month of planning, and then we've been working on this project for the past month, so it's nice to see it build up to this."

As a result, pupils have spent the month studying cultures around the world. Each grade level chose a country to focus on and has concentrated on learning that area's customs and native clothing.

The culminating activity was a fashion show Friday, when pupils wore what they believed residents of each country would wear in the future. Sixteen pupils from each grade were chosen to participate in the show, based on the originality of the costumes they wore that day.

Second-graders representing Australia wore boomerang necklaces with futuristic symbols on them, and another grade level designed futuristic hats for pupils to wear.

In addition, each grade presented the "Queen of Peace" with a symbol of peace from their adopted countries. First-graders represented Mexico, third-graders chose China, fourth-graders portrayed France and fifth-graders represented the United States.

School secretary Jeanne Fink acted as Queen of Peace for the program, dressed in a black and green beaded dress with a feather headpiece and carrying a staff.

"Each grade decided together what kind of gift they would give to promote friendship and peace," Yount said.

Fink's presents were maracas from Mexico, a boomerang from Australia, a set of chopsticks from China, a baguette from France, and a silver peace symbol from the United States.

During the past month, while studying their adopted countries, the children were also preparing a sculpture of peace, which stands in the school media center. School members collected 2,000 lids from frozen juice cans in celebration of the new year. Each of the more than 580 pupils then drew a symbol of peace on a lid.

In the finished sculpture, which hangs in the middle of the room, the juice can lids rise from the floor toward a large clock on the ceiling. The clock is framed in words of peace -- hope, honesty and brotherhood. Suspended above the sculpture is a huge globe of the world.

"Each of the lids symbolizes the children's dreams for peace," Yount said.

In addition, fifth-grade classes who studied the more than 180 United Nations countries added the dreams of children around the world to the sculpture. After researching how many children were in each country, they symbolically added that many "dreams" to the piece, Yount said.

"The kids have really been interested in all aspects of the program," he said, noting that the exercise allowed pupils to use the Internet and library materials to research the culture of various countries.

"When the globe got put up on Monday, they were very excited," Yount said. "They've been making their discs all month, and when they were put up on Monday, all of the students were trying to find theirs. As [Friday's] costuming event got closer, they really got excited."

Friday's presentation also included songs about being multicultural and a video about the monthlong project, which included futuristic game day. As the music from "Star Wars" played in the gym, the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders engaged in team-building activities using movable scooters as star ships.

"This project brings in media, music and the arts, and it encompasses multicultural ideas," Yount said. "As a guidance counselor, I also feel the peace and conflict-resolution aspect of this project very important. We've touched on every aspect of what needs to be taught to kids."

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