The International Day of Peace is celebrated on Sept. 21, however, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is making the celebration a week long event called Peace Week. During this week, there were different activities occuring while the students were at school.
“As the sponsor of Politics Club, I am always looking for positive things that the club can get involved in the community,” English teacher Ariel Hertz said. “So I kind of did that through the club and being able to work with Peer Counseling to enhance Peace Week and have it come to a combination with the assembly on Friday.”
This year the MSD Politics Club has invited students to submit original poems for the International Day of Peace. The topic of the poem was the importance of peace, kindness, love, and compassion in our world. The winning poem, written by Gianna Brier, was read during the International Day of Peace Assembly. She also received a $100 prize.
Peace week had a new theme each day. Monday, Sept. 17th, was “Citizenship Day,” so students were encouraged to wear red, white and blue. Sept. 18th was “Tie Dye Tuesday,” so students wore their most colorful tie dye shirts. On Thursday, Sept. 20th, students and staff were asked to mismatch their outfits. Lastly, on the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21, students were asked to wear the color white.
One other activity during Peace Week, was “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” on Thursday. On this day students were asked to make new friends by eating lunch with someone they did not know or were only acquainted with. A few teachers were having their students participate by having them pass around kindness cards. Each card said something different, including: “hug a friend” and “thank four people.”
“I think [the cards are] a great way for people to start socializing with others around them that they don’t necessarily talk to all the time.” Sophomore Samantha Husar said.
Peer counseling also participated by writing messages and quotes in chalk around the school. They were all about peace and kindness and inspiring others.
On Sept. 21, to kick off the assembly, a video, “Be Kind Choose Peace,” made by TV Production was played. In the video different students shared their definition of peace.
Einav Cohen, junior and Politics Club President, shared her gratitude with everyone present at the assembly and everyone who wore white.
“We had only a month to plan to plan everything,” Cohen said. “So I believe we had an amazing turn out and I am really happy with how it ended up playing out.”
The assembly opened with a performance by Alex Fink and a saxaphone group. The song, “Stella”, was an original piece, written by Alex himself. The second performance was done by a group of students who played the trumpets, including Max Fink, Alex’s twin brother. The song they performed was written by Max and was titled “Scare” which was based off the Egyptian god, Ra, who is a symbol of peace.
One of the key speakers at the event was Dr. Elaine Valdov, a representative of the United Nations, who strives to empower people around the world to make a difference. While she was speaking she asked everyone in the auditorium to stand and take a moment of silence. In this moment of silence she read the names of the 17 that were lost on Feb. 14.
She spoke of her beliefs that the young people of the world will be the ones to change it. She gave examples of many of the young leaders she has met through the UN, including Malala. Her speech closed by her singing a part of the hit song “This Little Light of Mine” by Harry Dixon Loes, many students and staff joined in.
“I hope that I gave the message that there are such great things going on out there, in the world, but particularly with young people,” Valdov said. “And that young people can make a significant difference in the world.”
The assembly continued with Word Warriors, the spoken word club at MSD, performing a poem about choosing peace over war.
The second speaker at the event, was Brandon Farbstein. He was diagnosed with a rare form a dwarfism at age two and spoke about how bringing peace to the world is easy. He believes in the “power of one”, which is how one thing, person, or event can change a person’s life for the better. This could be as small as a smile or as big as a job offer.
“I really hope that they got the understanding that it doesn’t take much to have an impact,” Farbstein said. “It’s sometimes the smallest things that mean the most to us and if we collectively do more of that, we change the world.”
Amy Kenny, the yoga teacher at MSD, shared with the crowd different ways to find inner peace. She had the audience participate in both yoga exercises and meditation. At points, she had her yoga classes join her on stage to demonstrate.
Towards the end of the assembly, the winner of the Day of Peace Poetry Contest, Gianna Brier, was announced. She then read her poem called “Hallway” to the audience.
“ I wanted to write about how even though we cant change bad things that happened to us, there is always a way that we can empower and work through it,” Brier said.
MSD Drama then performed a peace medley. The songs they sang included, “Imagine” by John Lenon, “Found” from Dear Evan Hansen, and “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman. The assembly ended with a video entitled “How to Show Love” made by Darian Williams.
The week of peace ended with not only the Peace Assembly,but also activities in the courtyard, which consi
sted of bean bag toss, “I am grateful for…” poster, where people listed what they were grateful for, photo booths, and more.
Peace week was celebrated to demonstrate kindness, peace, and family at MSD.