Mantua – In a time of unrest around the world and around the United States, Crestwood Primary and Intermediate School students joined together to inspire peace and love, one pinwheel at a time.

Last week, around 1,000 students and staff converged on the playground on a gorgeous sunny morning to participate for the seventh year in a yearly event that began in 2005. The effort was started by two art teachers in Coconut Creek, Florida as a way for students to express their feelings about world events and situations in their own lives. The project has become an international art and literacy project that has spread to over 3,500 locations in the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, Africa, South America, and the Middle East.

The event began with the fifth grade choir, led by third-grade soloist Mary Agnes, sang the Burt Bacharach song “What the World Needs Now is Love”. Afterwards, CPS Principal Cindy Ducca and CIS Principal Michelle Gerbrick urged students to celebrate International Peace Day by spreading happiness and being good citizens, good friends, and good neighbors.

Students read poetry, including “Hug O’ War” by Shel Silverstein, which expresses a preference for nonviolence and love from a child’s perspective. Counselor Gary Traveny shared details about the additional resources shared by both schools through a three-year grant the district received last year from the US Department of Education. Although the grant provided health, fitness, and musical equipment, the most valuable part, according to Traveny, are the two full-time counselors it funds at the two schools. Miss Johansen and Mrs. Tutkovics are in place to help students better develop their social and emotional skills during these formative years.

Prior to Wednesday’s event, Crestwood students from kindergarten through fifth grade created paper pinwheels to express their thoughts, in words and drawings, about living in harmony with others. After the morning event, each student ‘planted’ his or her pinwheel around the combined campus. The fifth graders were asked to place theirs in the newly-anointed Peace Garden, a quiet spot tucked in an outdoor alcove off a main hallway. The garden is a place where teachers can hold outdoor lessons, or a quiet spot for kids to read. Through a special art program, students will be creating colorful tiles that will be affixed to garden benches and iron trellises adorning the garden later this year.