The clink of the chain against the flagpole was a familiar sound outside Woodland Elementary School in Perrysburg, but there was another sound today as well.
The gentle whir of hundreds of paper pinwheels fluttered in the breeze, a testament to their student creators' recent lessons on peace, tolerance, and friendships.
"It's a global event," said second-grade teacher Lynn Cherry, who coordinated the project at the elementary.
In a "little buddy" and "big buddy" partnership, in which younger students are paired with older students in the school for various projects throughout the year, Woodland children created the pinwheels for the International Day of Peace, marked annually on Sept. 21.
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"A pinwheel is a childhood symbol – it reminds us of a time when things were simple, joyful, peaceful," according to the Pinwheels for Peace web site.
A template and directions also are available on the site.
"The folding part and putting the pin in was a little hard," said student Hannah Jordan, 8.
Making peace can be difficult too, Hannah's second-grade classmates said.
"If they make you mad, it is sometimes kind of hard," Evan Boyers, 8, admitted.
Ms. Cherry said the project equipped students with skills on making and maintaining friendships and guidance for their behavior in the school classroom, library, lunch room, hallways, and buses.
"That's their community right now," she said.
The Pinwheels for Peace project dovetails into the school's Olweus Bully Prevention program, a national effort to prevent student violence and bullying.
Ella Sibberson, 7, had these tips for promoting peace in a tough encounter with another student:
"You can walk away, take a little break," she said.
Eve Anderson, 6, said the goal was worth it.
"Because you feel happy inside when you're being a good friend," she said.
Students will get to take home their pinwheels. Nikhil Methi, 6, said he would "put it outside in the grass."
But for today, their little sentinels to peace will stand along the school sidewalk, spinning all kinds of happy feelings decorated with peace symbols, hearts, rainbows, even the Hungry Caterpillar.
Some even carried prose, ranging from "Peace is Cool" to a statement of intent for Perrysburg and communities across the world:
"We should live in a peace full town. We should not bully. Tolerance. War should not happen. We should have peace every day. I am happy," by one of the students.
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-356-8786.