Bishop Whelan School
“Being a member of PSI has helped the Bishop Whelan school community strengthen its goal of continuing to move towards becoming a “peace immersion” school. The whole school community is now using a common language of peace and we have all experienced common peace activities that help to emphasize our goal. Being a member of PSI is a great foundation that helps us all to strive towards fostering a true culture of peace in our school.”
St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School
One year ago the teachers in our quiet rural school began to comment on the increase in the number of aggressive acts on our buses and an increase in the incidents of reported acts of students being excluded from games and socializing. I organized a discussion and found that all staff had noticed this trend. In the past our basic strategies of “misbehaviour – consequence” had worked quite well, but it was obvious that the situation required a more comprehensive strategy to help students to resolve problems before we got the consequence stage. As fate would have it, I was attending a bullying workshop that week and one of the many resources which was referred to was the literature from the Peaceful Schools International. I read through the material and arranged a visit to Parkview Public School in Komoka. From the moment I entered the school I knew that this was a model for our own school. The staff was open and polite, the students were well behaved and industrious, and evidence of the commitment to peace was present both in the halls and in each classroom.
Following this visit, our staff met and discussed our “Peace Pledge.” We each made a pledge as to how each of us could foster and promote peace in our school. To make this pledge more tangible we drew a picture and wrote down our pledge. Later we shared this with the entire student body at our opening Peace Assembly. Teachers acted out our five “quick fix” strategies including: flip a coin, laugh it off, walk away, skip it, and say you are sorry. The follow-up was the students writing their own pledges which were first displayed in the classes and later moved to a display in the gym. In addition to this we began an incentive program with Peacemaker coupons being awarded for acts of kindness. We gave out Peace tee shirts with a peace sign and the words “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” We also adapted the incident form used at Parkview in order to have an ongoing record of infractions and a system to keep parents informed about what was happening at school. The number of incidents was compiled on a monthly basis and this information helped classroom teachers improve their understanding of the trends of conflict for their class. As a principal I was thrilled to see the number of incidents from the fall to the spring cut in half. There as a noticeable difference in the way our students were resolving conflict. The number of bus incidents in the final term was three. Our staff and parents were very grateful for the direction that the PSI strategies and support had inspired. The most important aspect was the improved ability of our students to communicate with each other; this was indeed a milestone which enriched all parts of the students’ growth.
This year we began school with a Peace Camp at a local conservation area. Our day included prayer, song, encouraging peaceful messages, peaceful games, and food. I knew we had really come a long way as a school when not one incident of concern occurred during the entire day. For a whole school from K-8 to accomplish this is indeed testament to our commitment to peace.
The Independent Commission on Decommissioning in Northern Ireland
I have been a member of the Advisory Board of Peaceful Schools International for a number of years, and I have seen the results which that organization and its founder Hetty van Gurp have achieved within schools in Canada, Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
In the several countries that Peaceful Schools International is involved around the world, it is having an increasingly positive effect on the attitude of children towards each other, and towards living a life free from conflict.
St. James School
Three years ago a peace project began in our school as a result of the wonderful resources provided by Peaceful Schools International. Annual focus projects related to our peace initiative and our faith story have resulted in a proactive and supportive peace culture that we live each day. We have celebrated over 10000 random acts of peace and kindness (RAPS). Our peace story is actively embraced by staff, students and the community. It has been and continues to be an incredible peace journey. Parents talk about how they use our peace culture to help in their homes. Children are proud of our peaceful school status. In fact, they lead the way. Teachers believe that our annual peace project is a priority in school planning. Year Three is all planned and on its way.
We thank Peaceful Schools International for your remarkable vision and we look forward to your incredible support in the years to come. You helped us make a real difference in our school. THANK YOU.
A quote from TIME magazine
The June 19, 2006 issue of a Time magazine article honouring Hetty van Gurp as a Canadian Hero, states:
“Betty Orr is the principal of Edenbrooke Primary School in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a deprived area where, she says, ‘violence is endemic.’ But since staff members began following van Gurp’s holistic path a few years ago, violent incidents have plummeted to about 12 a year from more than 200.”
Millstone River School
It is hard to believe that Millstone River School is celebrating its 4th year as a member of PSI. Rest assured that the theme of peace and character education is always reinforced in our school. We always do something extra special leading up to March 1st, since that is the official PSI Day in New Jersey. This year we are having a school wide essay contest and a mural contest. Both will represent the theme of peace. The two top essay winners from each grade will read their essays and receive prizes from our principal. The art teachers and students will paint the winning mural on a wall in our school.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
The word “Peace” has so many meanings. The interpretation I had before coming (Regional Coordinators’ Workshop) was quite literal, but I now see a broader meaning within the school context.
Seeing and hearing different things always broaden the mind – this was very much the case with PSI.