Sacred Heart Academy joins

Sacred Heart Academy joins ‘Peaceful Schools International’

Paul Herridge
The Southern Gazette
December 19, 2006

Students at Sacred Heart

Marystown’s Sacred Heart Academy became the latest school in this province welcomed last week into the esteemed ‘Peaceful Schools International’ family.

More than 220 schools worldwide are now part of the Canadian-based Peaceful Schools International club, including 26 in Newfoundland and Labrador. The only other member school on the Burin Peninsula thus far is Fortune Bay Academy in St. Bernard’s-Jacques Fontaine.

Faculty, parents and students gathered in the school’s gymnasium Dec. 11 for a special flag raising ceremony, which also included a drama performance about bullying; group promises from Beavers, Sparkes, Brownies and Girl Guides; and the singing and recitation of the organization’s theme song and peace pledge.

Principal Paul Pike told guests the school’s interest in Peaceful Schools International came about through a desire to create a safe and caring environment for students and the entire school community.

He revealed students and staff were involved in a number of activities during recent weeks in order to prepare for the ceremony and to better understand the concept of a peaceful school.

"We, here at Sacred Heart Academy, are endeavouring to create a new vision for schools – one that educates both the heart and the mind.

"We want our students to become critical thinkers, creative and concerned citizens. We want them to understand their responsibility to work together to create a better place for all of us.

"We want them to treasure their talents, grow up to become independent adults, to appreciate the value of family and friends and to embrace healthy lifestyles."

Dr. Hetty van Gurp founded Peaceful Schools International in Nova Scotia in 2001, following the bullying-related death of her son.

The organization’s mission is to provide support and recognition to schools that have declared a commitment to creating and maintaining a culture of peace. Its goals include facilitating networking among peaceful schools, acting as a catalyst and clearing house for innovative ideas and programs and helping schools create a climate in which everyone feels safe, valued and respected, encouraging student-centered conflict resolution strategies and promoting an understanding and appreciation of diversity.

Mr. Pike noted "today’s flag raising is recognition that our school is ready to be recognized for its efforts and successes. We are also ready to take on the challenges, which will ensure that our students are free from intimidation, harassment and aggression of any kind."

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