Honoring Peace

This past week, Parker teachers and students spent time celebrating the immense accomplishments of the past few months of in-person schooling by reflecting on PEACE and what it means to our community. In true Parker fashion, these festivities were unique for each classroom, serving the individual and age-appropriate needs of each group. Nonetheless, some powerful themes emerged that exemplify what peace means to our community here at Parker.
Last Friday, the halls at Parker were lovingly decorated by our faculty with twinkle lights to set the tone of joy and wonderment for everything else that would ensue. This week, students across grade levels made peace flags to display in the hallways representing what peace means to them. In Kindergarten, students worked on peace weavings to hang in their classrooms. Nellie’s 3-4 students painted inspirational rocks and planned a school-wide scavenger hunt complete with s’mores campsites for all grades. 5th grade students made Peace Birds (one for family, one for a teacher, and one for their classroom tree) and wrote about how they might make the world more peaceful. Meanwhile, 1-2 scientists had a pancake party to celebrate and share the maple-sugaring unit they were unable to complete last spring due to the shutdown.
Across all grade levels, Parker art teacher Claire Sherwood worked with students on a peace project to benefit the YWCA of Troy. Inspired by the artist Keith Haring, who firmly believed that art was for everyone and often involved children in his projects, each Parker student made an original holiday card with the intention of spreading cheer to the YWCA residents. Claire then printed small bundles of each card to gift along with the originals. The cards will be included in all 76 holiday baskets that the YWCA gives out to every full-time resident of their facility. As Claire explains, “Each resident will get a handmade card from a Parker student in their basket, and they will also receive a small bundle of their artist’s cards to gift to others. The idea is that we want to spread cheer, but we also want to enable others to spread cheer as well.” Director of Development for the YWCA of Troy, Jamie Crouse, also added, “Things like cards are a luxury to these women. They are not going to go buy them, but this gift enables them to still participate in a cherished holiday tradition.” Claire will also be donating the proceeds of her own art fundraiser ($400) towards gift cards to residents’ baskets as well.
This is what we learn by celebrating PEACE. Every project and celebration undertaken in the name of peace all required considerable thought, effort, and participation on behalf of our teachers and students to complete. Parker students understand that peace is not merely an enjoyment of what is calm and beautiful. Peace is a state of being worthy of celebration specifically because it can only be achieved through active intention. Peace is process. Peace is participatory. Peace is purposeful. And on occasion, Peace is even pancake parties:) But more than anything, Peace is Parker. 
We are so grateful for this incredible community of students, teachers, and families that comes together each day with the shared vision of using our talents to make the world a better place. The best is yet to come.