At May River Montessori in Old Town Bluffton, Win Pirtle, 12, left, and Sam Ford, 13, show examples of the pinwheels students created for the school’s Pinwheels for Peace ceremony Oct. 5.

Students at May River Montessori gathered on the playground Oct. 5 to plant their handmade Pinwheels for Peace as a symbolic way to honor International Day of Peace, which was celebrated around the world Sept. 21.

International Day of Peace was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981.

They had planned to hold their event on that day, but torrential rain prevented the children from going outside, said the school’s director, Michele Quigley.

The idea for the event started with assistant director Sarah Stone, who brought it up to the leadership team as something to consider, Quigley said.

“International Peace Day is just something we should all recognize more than we do,” Stone said. Pinwheels for Peace was chosen as the theme because “it is something all our students can understand on their own levels.”

Art teacher Sari Kandel worked with the students, ages 2 to 15, to create paper pinwheels, adding their own touches of art and design, and finally attached to the erasers on pencil tops.

“We are a school dedicated to fostering a generation of world changers and peacemakers. So we HAD to participate in World Peace Day,” Kandel said.

The effort was another way to encourage the children to be cognizant of the choices they make. “The more you chose peace, the more peace we’ll have in the world,” Kandel said. “With every single action we are peaceful or not. We hope the pinwheel garden will remind every person to cultivate peace.”

On Sept. 21, teachers in all grades had held discussions in their classes about what peace means, how to behave peacefully, and what a world at peace would look like.

While the youngest students learned more about playing nicely together, older students took to heart the ideas discussed and the significance of their schoolwide gesture.

“It signifies that the new generation really believes in world peace,” said Sam Ford, 13. “Anybody who knows about Pinwheels for Peace will see this and think it’s cool that all these kids are promoting peace.”

“For me, peace is acceptance,” said Win Pirtle, 12. “It’s nice that everyone wants to send a message to the world for whatever they think peace is.”

Triplets Pryce, Ella and Molly Williamson, age 10, had similar thoughts about what peace means.

“For me, it means hope that COVID-19 will get better and they’ll have a vaccination for children,” Molly said.

Pryce said, “For me, peace is being kind to others and hoping they’ll be kind to you back.”

“Peace make me feel calm and eager to be kind to other people,” said Ella.

Quigley is proud of the students and hope Pinwheels for Peace makes a difference in the community. “I hope it attracts some attention and starts some conversations,” she said. “I’m excited to see how it develops for us as a school – and maybe include families next year.”