Wyandot ECS Embraces Peace Project
It’s been challenging to make connections this school year due to COVID protocols, but that isn’t stopping the entire Wyandot Early Childhood School community from working together on a new initiative called the Peace Project.
The idea came about through a survey that Principal Liz Gruber sent out asking teachers to reflect on what is working and what they miss because of COVID. “Overwhelmingly, staff said they miss connections between each other and classes within the building,” said Gruber. In typical years, Wyandot staff members have many opportunities to connect with one another and for classes to connect with other classes on projects, buddy class activities and celebrations.
“This project is a way for us to connect with a common goal – around helping others and being PAX/Peace Leaders in the community just like we are in the building,” said Gruber. [PAX is a universal preventive intervention where self-regulation, self-management, and self-control are taught to promote community -- which then leads to a more peaceful and calm learning environment.] “It also gives us a common language to use at Wyandot and a way to brainstorm and work ‘together’ even when we are apart. The VLO can also take part in this project – even from home.”
Gruber said that the Peace Project started with simple goals so that it could evolve and adapt as new ideas came in. “By having the project be as close to ‘real life’ as possible, we really want students to think about how they can be peace leaders outside of our walls so that the ripple effect continues long after they leave Wyandot.”
So far, the Peace Project has included principal and counselor visits to classrooms to talk and read about peace as well as having a schoolwide virtual assembly with the “Be the Nice Kid” organization. Parents have been part of the project by making videos to help students understand that everyone can be a Peace Leader. For example, a video by Wyandot teacher and parent Sara Mosteller shows students how volunteering with Cinderella’s Closet helps her spread peace in the community. In the video she tells students that peace means “feeling happiness and joy on the inside and having it just spill out to be evident on the outside.”
The students are really grasping the idea of being Peace Leaders. Some students have made books about peace for Gruber to read on the morning announcements, while other students decided to pick up trash at lunch. Kindergartner Claire said it was because “we want to clean it up to help the community.”
This week, Wyandot is doing a cereal collection for Reach Out Lakota. They plan to use the cereal boxes to set up a domino chain reaction up and down the school hallways to help students see how one action can set off a chain of similar events. Second grader Milena said, “The cereal boxes are only in Wyandot, but we want to spread peace outside of Wyandot.” Fellow second grader Jonas added, “The more people (that are peaceful) the more it spreads.”
After that chain reaction event, the school is turning the Peace Project over to the students to come up with even more ideas to spread peace in the community. Gruber added, “We know that students often have the BEST ideas!”
Gruber is proud of what has been accomplished so far. “I love that the teachers, staff and students at Wyandot are always ready to try something new, make the world a better place and jump right in!”
- relationship building