Pinwheels for Peace: Imagine… “Whirled Peace”

In today’s world, peace needs to become more than just a word. Last month, St. Benedict School in Holmdel planned to take part in an international art and literacy project, Pinwheels for Peace, by “planting” pinwheels with messages of peace on the school’s front lawn.

Pinwheels for Peace is an art installation project started in 2005 by two art teachers, Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan, of Coconut Creek, Florida, as a way for students to express their feelings about what’s going on in the world and in their lives. In the first year, groups in over 1,325 locations throughout the world were spinning pinwheels on September 21; there were approximately 500,000 pinwheels spinning throughout the world. Last year (year 10), more than 4.5 million pinwheels were spinning in over 3,500 locations, including the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Locally, Mrs. Candace Wallace, St. Benedict School principal, and Mrs. Mertz, St. Benedict School art teacher, were coordinating the Pinwheels for Peace project this year.

This project is non-political. Peace doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the conflict of war; it can be related to violence/intolerance in our daily lives, and to peace of mind. To each of us, peace can take on a different meaning, but in the end, it all comes down to a simple definition: “a state of calm and serenity, with no anxiety, the absence of violence, freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people.”

The students of St. Benedict School created pinwheels of all shapes and sizes. As part of the creation process, they wrote their thoughts about war and peace, tolerance, and living in harmony with others on one side. On the other side, they drew pictures to visually express their feelings. The students assembled these pinwheels and on International Day of Peace, “planted” their pinwheels on the front lawn of the school as a public statement and art exhibit/installation.

The installation for St. Benedict School was scheduled on Tuesday, September 20, where Mrs. Mertz and her eighth grade class created a huge smiley face in honor of Saint Teresa’s “Peace Begins with a Smile” on the lawn in front of the school, and outlined the face with pinwheels. On Wednesday, September 21, the entire school went outside and circled the pinwheel illustration for a short prayer service, along with a song of peace led by the school choir. In school the following week, all students in grades K-8 signed the school bulletin board in the foyer, pledging to “let peace begin with a smile.” For more information, go to http://www.pinwheelsforpeace.com or contact Lori Ulrich at (732) 264-4712, ext. 39.