Your News

Kells1We want to hear from you! Please share what you are doing at your school to create a culture of peace. There are so many creative ways to engage students in achieving our common goal of making school a place where people want to be. Please post your ideas here.

20 Replies to “Your News”

    Karen Cope
    Extending on our experiences from Term 1s ‘Peace Begins With Me’ social justice inquiry and Term 2s Wellbeing Festival performance based on the story of Sadako, Grade 3s led the school in Peace Day involvement. We made Peace-themed chatterboxes, Peace bracelets and Peace kites and came up with ideas for posters and activities for other grades. One minute of silence was observed at 12.00 midday, and Grade 3 children were deputised as members of the Peace Patrol where duties involved helping on the yard with conflict resolution and promoting inclusion and respect.

  2. Northumberland High School, Nova Scotia
    Our Respect Week runs from November 15th to 18th (the 19th is an in service and parent-teacher) Last year we had a “Sock It To Bullying” event where students tie-dyed socks pink at lunch time one day, to be worn the next. (small glitch about getting all the socks dried by the end of the day, at least now we know for this year) More plans are in the works for this year.

  3. Kingslake P.S. is a multicultural school community in Toronto and our students and teachers come from many countries around the world. Kingslake P.S. has been a member of Peaceful Schools International (PSI) since 2004.

    snow peace symbol at Kingslake schoolOur membership in PSI has provided us with an important school-wide focus, bringing together staff and students towards a common goal. In the beginning, we undertook initiatives within our school to promote a culture of peace. PSI newsletters, emails and their website gave us an abundance of ideas and sparked our own thinking. As a school, we held assemblies, created peace books and poems, made Kites for Peace, adopted a school mascot (Harmony, the Good Gorilla), acknowledged acts of kindness on a daily basis, had “Hand-Off/Peace On” weeks, created a large Peace Mural and performed a school show based on “making a difference”. We knew our efforts were producing results when we overheard a student reminding a new Kingslake student that, “We don’t do that at Kingslake. We’re a peaceful school.” It has provided teachers with a common language when discussing behaviour and expectations. We have also been able to incorporate our school board’s Character Education goals into our peaceful school initiatives. It has provided a meaningful way to teach many of the character traits, as well as curriculum expectations in Literacy and Social Studies.

    Inspired by PSI’s worldwide focus, for the last few years we have worked on helping the students look beyond our school community. One year we purchased 5 wells for families in Cambodia. As a result of our connection with PSI, we adopted a twin school in Sierra Leone. For the last couple of years, each class has written letters and sent pictures via the internet to classes at the Mayagba Primary School in Sierra Leone. The letters and pictures enabled the students to discuss the similarities and differences between students in both countries. It was wonderful for students to see a Mayagba teacher reading Mem Fox’s Whoever You Are, a book their teacher had read to them. As a Kingslake school community, we have purchased goats, school supplies, sports equipment and sent teachers for training. We have had visits from PSI representatives, who made presentations to our students. This has made our connection with PSI very special and meaningful for our students and our staff.

    We feel very strongly that our connection to and the support received from Peaceful Schools International has made a significant and invaluable difference at Kingslake.

  4. Leary’s Brook Junior High School, in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, has been a member of Peaceful Schools International since April 2002. This time in our school history proved to be quite a challenge for the Leary’s Brook school community as it saw school reform move from a denominational school system to neighbourhood schools. The year prior to its inaugural membership in PSI, Leary’s Brook received students from 14 separate feeder schools. Building community was key to the school’s success, and membership in PSI proved to be the catalyst for the school in establishing an ethos of collaboration, caring and respect for all.

    It was apparent in reviewing the membership criteria for PSI that this organization already had a vision for schools which was right in line with what we aspired to be. The decision to embark upon the Peaceful Schools journey was our next step forward.

    In reflecting on the journey thus far, our identity as a Peaceful School affords Leary’s Brook a focus to move into the 21st century with a purpose in mind for each person in the community. We continue to adopt a collaborative approach to school-based decision making and provide curricular and extracurricular peace education activities for our students. Teaching methods that stress participation, cooperation, problem solving and respect for differences are first and foremost. Student and community-centered conflict resolution strategies are utilized and we continue to maintain exemplary records in community service projects. Our school is the leading contributor to food banks in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and has been a top contributor to World Vision in the Atlantic Provinces.

    Our staff members continue to avail of opportunities for professional development focused on creating a culture of peace and aspire to the famous words of Dr. Hiam Ginnot, “The essence of discipline is finding effective alternatives to punishment.” Students in our school learn about Respect.4 and showing respect for self, others, learning and the environment.

    Teaching peace and character education remain our focus through in-class and extracurricular initiatives. We have an active Student Leadership Team which serves to focus our service learning projects. Our provincial health curriculum has been infused with a program to teach our students about healthy living and healthy relationship building. Varying clubs and support groups are reflections of a peaceful schools focus including the newly formed Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Peer Mediation Group as well as the Brook Animal Rights Klub (BARK).

    Leary’s Brook recently held a first of many Diversity Days where the focus was on the customs and traditions of indigenous peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador. Our school offers an extracurricular human rights course which is co-ordinated through the Asper Foundation. This year 45 of our grade 9 students will complete a nine-week Holocaust and Human Rights Awareness Program which will be followed by a trip to Washington DC to visit the Holocaust museum. One of our most cherished student awards in the Golden Heart Award which is awarded annually to a grade nine student who has significantly contributed to the school’s community service learning projects and who has consistently demonstrated the qualities associated with good character development.

    Community building through creating partnerships with local police as well as businesses and municipal and provincial government and NGO’s are ongoing. Leary’s Brook is quite proud of the growing group of parent volunteers and a Breakfast Program which serves close to 200 students each day. Parent sessions are held in conjunction with our community partners on topics which range from internet and drug awareness to bullying prevention. These parent sessions are always well attended and well received by our parents.

    Leary’s Brook continues on the journey to peace with enthusiasm and pride. This journey is guided and nurtured through our involvement with Peaceful schools International which has afforded us our identity as a peaceful school and provided networking among all peaceful schools internationally.

    Burnaby NewsLeader
    September 23, 2010

    On Tuesday afternoon at Gilmore Community School, which has been undergoing major seismic upgrades the last couple years, there was a moment of peace–in more ways than one.

    The roofers’ constantly rumbling asphalt machines fell silent for a few minutes as the entire school celebrated its commitment to being a positive, peaceful school with the raising of a special flag.

    The flag marks Gilmore’s membership into Peaceful Schools International (PSI), which provides support and resources to schools wanting to educate students on peace.

    PSI was started in 2001 by Hetty van Gurp, a Halifax teacher whose 14-year-old son died as a result of an assault by a school bully.

    Gilmore principal Sheilagh Pace was working in Montreal when she heard van Gurp speak and wanted to bring the lessons to her own schools.

    Gilmore is the first Burnaby school to join PSI and only the third in B.C., following schools in Sechelt and Coquitlam, said Pace. Students and staff have spent the past two years focusing on creating a peaceful, respectful school environment.

    Students have been encouraged to make good choices, take responsibility for their actions and handle conflict in non-aggressive ways. They’ve worked on initiatives and fundraisers to support children and families both locally, regionally and in Afghanistan.

    In the gym prior to the flag-raising ceremony, Pace encouraged students to leave “peace prints” instead of footprints behind in the school, by playing well together and picking up garbage, to show respect for both the custodians and the school.

    She told them to think of PSI and its lessons whenever they’re frustrated or upset with schoolmates.

    “We know there will always be conflict in the world,” she said. “It’s how you handle conflict that shows your own character.”

    Pace said in an interview that while Gilmore was always a peaceful school, it’s “an ongoing process” and the efforts of the past two years have resulted in the number and intensity of conflicts among students being reduced.

    “I think our students are more capable of resolving conflicts themselves, before it escalates to a teacher or the principal.”

    Back at the flag-raising, students were reminded of their responsibilities to being peaceful and respectful daily. They conducted a minute of silence to ponder their own behaviour and commitments to peace in the upcoming school year.

    Then the students sang, before dispersing as the rumbling of the asphalt equipment began anew.

    Read the article in the Burnaby NewsLeader.

  6. On June 11, Westwood High School Junior Campus in Montreal celebrated their commitment to peace with a PSI flag raising ceremony. The ceremony was held outside under peaceful skies and warm temperatures. The whole ceremony was handled by students and was very well received by invited guests and school population. A celebratory BBQ and games day was held afterwards.

  7. This article was written by staff at Thorndale Elementary School in Pierrefonds. Why not try out their “Thorndale Hug” idea at your school?

    Thorndale Elementary School in Pierrefonds is a wonderful place to be. The sense of community and warmth has been commented upon many times by staff and visitors alike. We are proud members of Peaceful Schools International and we try to live up to the mission of PSI, and we continue to build our reputation as a peaceful place of learning.

    This year we have been busy. Our Peace Pal team did a great job promoting peer mediation throughout the grade levels. We raised money for Haiti relief, made community Christmas baskets, organised some aid for Africa via our principal and our kindergarten teachers. We raised $600 dollars for one of our pastoral animators to organise the building of a well in a remote village in India.

    Most recently we created the “Thorndale Hug”. Each student made a paper hand print with their name and a word which signified peace for them. The whole school gathered outside in the shape of a heart all holding posters showing their “helping hands”.

    Our friend and PSI mentor Judy grant came in last week and created an art project with grade 5 students, celebrating religious and cultural diversity. The crafts were displayed both on our peace tree at school and at the peace tree at the school board offices.

    So, all in all, another great year at Thorndale school. We wish everyone in the Lester B Pearson community a very happy, relaxing and peaceful Summer!

  8. Kells Elementary School in Montreal, is celebrating their PSI Flag Raising this month (June 2010). To build a culture of peace in their school, one of the things the students and staff at Kells have done is created a Peace Pledge. The Peace Pledge reads:
    This pledge is posted in the hallway of Kells Elementary School, and it has been signed by all Kells Students. What a wonderful way to encourage all students to make a commitment to peace!

  9. Verdun Elementary becomes Peaceful school member
    by Bob Dubois October 7, 2009
    Le Messager Verdun

    It was a day long awaited for the past few years, as the staff and students of Verdun Elementary finally raised the flag of PSI, emblematic of being a member of Peaceful Schools International. It was also a special moment for Pastoral Animator Mary-Anne Fyckes who spearheaded this effort tirelessly the past several years.

    It was a dignified occasion suitable for an elementary school, which included an afternoon filled with songs, speeches from invited guests and the moment that every awaited, when Judy Grant, coordinator of Peaceful Schools for the LBPSB, proudly proclaimed Verdun Elementary, a member of Peaceful Schools International.

    PSI was founded in 2001 by Hetty Van Gurp in Halifax, after seeing a need for peace education. Miss Van Gurp was involved in her own personal tragedy as in 1991, Hetty’s older son Ben died, following an act of aggression by another student who had been bullying him at school. Ben was just 14 years old. Before founding PSI, Miss Van Gurp was involved in peace lessons in and around Halifax and then across Nova Scotia.

    The afternoon began with invited guests and students from Beurling Academy under the guidance of teacher Miss Debi Dixon, who is actively involved in peer leadership at BA, going around the various classrooms and helping the VE students make paper butterflies which were to be hung later in the gym.

    Miss Fyckes proudly welcomed everybody to the event and after the playing of the national anthem; then it was the opening address of VP Miss Sylvie Martin, who was standing in for Principal David Chisholm who was unable to attend on this day. After the presentation of the PSI flag by Miss Judy Grant, it was the turn of representatives of parents, staff, and two grade 6 students to make statements and pledges of peace for the school to operate in an atmosphere of peace and security. It was an afternoon for all to be proud of.

  10. Pearson is the only board in North America to fully adopt the anti-bullying philosophy

    Karen Seidman
    The Gazette
    Monday, May 25, 2009

    Lester B. Pearson School Board officials may have been proud recently to receive a Peaceful Schools flag from the founder of the movement, Hetty van Gurp, but it was van Gurp herself who was proudest that an entire school board had adopted her philosophy.

    It is the only school board on the continent to have done so.

    Schools mostly sign up for the Peaceful Schools initiative individually, but the Pearson board embraced van Gurp’s ideology from the beginning in 2002 and encouraged all of its West Island schools to participate and to become peaceful schools.

    So when van Gurp presented Pearson officials with one of the organization’s flags for its head office in Dorval, she did so knowing that it was the only school-board headquarters in North America that would have one of her flags flying.

    And for van Gurp, who lost her 14-year-old son in a violent bullying incident in 1991, it was as proud a moment as she could have to honour the memory of her cherished boy.

    “It is very unusual to have a whole school board do this,” van Gurp said in an interview. “They are the one and only school board and to me they represent the pinnacle of success.I am hopeful that other school boards will follow their lead.”

    Van Gurp’s Peaceful Schools International is based in Nova Scotia and includes about 300 schools in 14 countries as members. While not every Pearson school flies a Peaceful Schools flag, all have participated in workshops to learn the Peaceful Schools philosophy and all work at keeping it going in their schools.

    Peaceful Schools International encourages each school to formulate its own way of creating a culture of peace, using the organization’s criteria as a guide rather than a law. Some of the criteria include involving everyone in the school in decision-making to create a democratic classroom, teaching conflict resolution so children can do their own problem-solving and providing professional development for staff.

    “The (Lester B. Pearson) school board has really demonstrated their commitment to Peaceful Schools in a tangible way,” said van Gurp.

    The board’s commitment meant that people from every school were able to attend a three-day workshop to get the program going in the beginning, and they solidified that commitment by hiring a retired principal, Judy Grant, to run the Peaceful Schools initiative and keep it going.

    “The goal is to create an environment where bullying cannot exist,” said Grant, who is still the co-ordinator of the program for the board. “And when you empower students to have control of their environment, it absolutely happens.”

    Still, she conceded, you have to keep working at it and the schools plan many activities around the Peaceful Schools concept, not to mention an annual Peace Symposium for students.

    For example, one school is planning a week dedicated to the language of peace, where communication will be done in a non-confrontational manner.

    “The whole school is brought together by doing things like this on a school-wide basis,” said Grant. “We are just trying to support our schools so they can maintain a climate of peace.”

  11. We just wanted to congratulate you all at PSI on the wonderful new website. It’s FANTASTIC!!!

    We hope this finds you all well at PSI & would like to thankyou for your continued support with the monthly bulletins we receive.

    Sending very best wishes to you all

    Diolch yn fawr (thank you)
    From all at St. Teilo’s High School, Wales, U.K.

  12. Wilder Penfield is a vibrant community whose core values are:
    • Independence: striving for fulfillment of individual potential
    • Mastery: fostering a life-long love of learning
    • Belonging: creating a strong sense of community
    • Generosity: nurturing responsible citizens who show respect and caring for self, others, and the environment
    The daily life of the Wilder Penfield community is embraced by the philosophy of the Circle of Courage, the circle being a symbol of inclusiveness and interconnectedness. The Circle of Courage embraces the above four values that we believe are necessary for personal and community growth. The students understand these values as: I belong, I give, I choose, I try.

    Staff and students strive to live these values daily by demonstrating eight special positive behaviors. When one or more of these values is not being lived, the students involved are “discouraged”, and the Circle is broken.

    The role of our Peer Mediators
    Our peer mediators are called Encouragers. These trained Grade 6 students meet with those who have broken the Circle of Courage and help them resolve conflicts and act as mentors to help students choose an appropriate way to make restitution and restore the Circle.

    The School as a Community
    In order to create opportunities for belonging, community spirit, and encourage students to look out for each other, the Wilder Penfield community is organized into Houses. Each House is composed of students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and students remain in their House for their entire time at Wilder Penfield. Houses meet regularly throughout the year for friendship activities and events, and a “House Committee” helps plan these days.

    School assemblies are held regularly to celebrate special days. Both students and staff contribute to these celebrations.

    The Physical Education program at Wilder Penfield focuses on participation, sportsmanship and fitness for life. The program allows students to develop physically through a myriad of activities that are tailored to the age and ability of the student. The program is reviewed and updated annually through teacher and student evaluation. Opportunities to participate extra-curricular sports are offered throughout the year.

    Students write and publish their own newspaper.

    All students benefit from the services of a Spiritual Care and Guidance and Community Involvement Animator.

    The School in the Community and in the World
    Parent participation is an integral component of school life. School policy is determined and adopted collaboratively by a Governing Board composed of staff, parent and community representatives.

    A Home and School committee offers its resources to enrich school life.

    Volunteer parents offer their talents to ensure the smooth functioning of daily life at the school, and to make many activities (i.e. field trips) possible for the students.

    Grade 6 students volunteer monthly at a residence for seniors and soup kitchen.

    Food baskets are provided for a ‘twinned’ school whose students and families are in need.

    International projects include Free the Children and Sleeping Children Around the World.

    The School Building
    The school entrance is decorated with a mural showing the four seasons, which was created and painted by parents and students.

    The corridors showcase students’ artwork, the theme of which is often nature or the environment.

    The school grounds include a very special area called Forever Wild. This area has been allowed to revert to its natural state and provides a peaceful oasis where students can observe nature.

  13. This year at the Qatar Canadian School (QCS), we celebrated peace in the classrooms, in the hallways and on the playgrounds. Most importantly, our peaceful attitudes followed us wherever we went, whether it be around our neighbourhoods, shopping at the mall, playing sports or traveling to other countries. Our school community helped make the world to a more peaceful place.

    February was Friendship month at QCS. The student Counselor went into each class to teach about the importance of Kindness and spreading acts of kindness. Students were asked to give their classmates compliments anonymously. The compliments were placed in envelopes and given to the students. All students got to enjoy the kind words their classmates said about them. Each child was also given Kindness Cards and asked to do something kind for someone and then ask them to pass on the kindness.

    For the month of March, the counselor went into classrooms to teach the idea of celebrating the uniqueness of all people. After discussions about how we are different and the same, the students shared ideas about how celebrating differences could create peace with in our school community and the world community. Every student in the school made a Wish Fish stating how they were going to add peace to the world. These pieces of art were displayed on a wall at school. During this month students also painted the Eagle, the School Mascot, on the school wall and wrote what the characteristics of our QCS students stands for: Honest, Thoughtful, Inclusive, Peaceful, Global Citizens.

    The Peaceful School committee decided in April that each class would pick an idea that would help their class make a difference in the outside community. Each class welcomed the idea and quickly started finding interesting ways to give back to our Doha community. Students cleaned beaches; made care packages for poor workers; walked orphaned dogs; raised money for a Red Cross/Red Crescent (Doha chapter); shared cultural experiences with students living in Canada; and helped spread the importance of recycling. At the monthly assembly each class shared how they gave back to the community. We also had an added bonus of the grade five students singing a rap song about keeping the Earth clean. A grade one class put on a mini-skit of the Stone Soup to teach the lesson of working together.

    The assembly in May, had faculty and student volunteers give PowerPoint presentations to the student body about how they gave back to society, demonstrating how everyone is able to give back to the world to make it a better place. Ms. Bos, a fourth grade teacher, shared her experience when she went to Bangladesh to teacher local teachers and students for her spring break. It was a powerful and moving presentation which stirred the audience to ask great questions. A few junior High and High school students spoke about their experience on their school trip to Oman where they experience a different culture, as well as, learning the importance of turtle migration.

    Students were made aware of careers that help the community in June. In classroom, activities students had conversations about different careers and how they either helped directly or indirectly. Career Days have been set up for next fall for the High School students to help them make informed decisions on career choices that are relevant and current for today’s society. University tours have also been organized for next year so the students will have the opportunity to speak with university representatives face to face.

    Looking forward to continuing to develop QCS as a peaceful School in the school year 2012-2013.

    Have a great summer!

    Sara MacDonald, School Counselor, Qatar Canadian School, Doha, Qatar

  14. I am a mid professional teacher of citizenship education.Ontil i recently enrolled on a a peace education Course with Teachers without Borders,i dint know most of the issues i have had with people i related with in the past had been basically due to lack of a nonviolent communication,am working so hard to instill this as a way of life in my relationships firstly with my self and secondly with the students i teach and my colleagues.

  15. Hello to everyone at Peaceful Schools International from your partners
    here at St Teilo’s Church in Wales High School in the UK.

    Being the first school in the UK to be granted accreditation from Peaceful
    Schools International was a real boost to the momentum of our schools
    commitment to advancing the cause of peace on a local and international
    level. We are now in the process of setting up a ‘Peace Network’
    in the hope of linking together other schools and organisations who share
    in our common goals.

    As part of this, we have been working extremely hard over the past few
    months to become the first secondary school in the U.K. to gain
    accreditation to ‘The Peace Mala Project’. This project was set up
    following the tragedy of 9/11, and seeks to promote religious tolerance
    and understanding.

    As part of this accreditation we will be having an event at the school on
    November 28th 2012 where will receive this accreditation from the
    Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan.

    We were very much hoping that Peaceful Schools International would be able
    to play a part in this event by sending us a short filmed address to our
    school to be shown at the ceremony? We really want you there in spirit (if
    not person) on the day, so we hope you can help us in this request. The
    event itself will be filmed and we of course will let you have a copy of
    this and any associated local press generated by the event.

    Sending you very best wishes!

    Jodie Duggan (Student Listener Coordinator).

  16. My name is Harry Ezenibe, an international student-athlete here at Saint Mary’s University. I attended Hetty Van Gurp Peace Education class in 2011 and carried out a research project in order to understand if the ubiquity of peace is present at the university. We made this project in order to interview people about their experience, understanding and the existence of peace. We believe that the impact we’ve made during that time has translated in the lives of many here at the university and I am appreciative of people like Hetty, and the peaceful schools international members. Best wishes – Harry Ezenibe

  17. Thank you, Harry. It was a pleasure to get to know you. I suspect that you will continue to work towards creating a more just and peaceful world once you graduate from SMU. All the best..Hetty

  18. Peaceful Schools has received a delightful letter from our member school in Niska Banja, Serbia, Ivan Goran Kovacic School. It always gives us great pleasure seeing what each school is doing to create their own culture of peace and we’d like to share their hard work with you!

    Over the past school year Ivan Goran Kovacic School has participated in activities that promote empathy, acceptance and friendship. Some of their successes have been fundraising money for students that come from low income families, building skills for peaceful conflict resolution through theatre and creating their own tree of friendship to celebrate their school’s love and kindness! These are only a handful of the many other activities the school has participated in over the past year, below are a few pictures highlighting their work.

  19. Kells Academy Celebrates Pink Shirt Day
    Every year Kells Academy celebrates Pink Shirt Day and makes a donation to PSI.
    Pink shirt day was started by two Nova Scotia high school students and has grown to be a national movement to raise awareness about the harmful effects of bullying.

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