Students in Amanda Greenblatt’s French class took part in a colorful ceremony on an otherwise gloomy Tuesday morning. They gathered on the dirt in the organic garden and stood in a circle that was marked by small flags from many nations. In the center, three students held up a large pole with the words “Let there be peace on Earth” in many languages.
The pole was a gift from the local Rotary Club. But why was a high school French class involved and not a math, science or history class? The answer dates back to the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015.
The tragic event had a special meaning for the Cornwall students who had hosted visitors from France during the previous spring as part of an annual exchange. To show their solidarity with France, three Cornwall girls organized a Night of Peace at the high school.
The girls graduated a few months later, but other members of the French class continued the tradition. During this year’s observance, the school received the peace pole from the Rotary Club.
The pole, which appears to be more than 10 feet tall (we didn’t measure it) will become a permanent fixture in the garden. But on April 25, three students held it upright, while their classmates took turns indicating what peace meant to them.
The students spoke in pairs — one defining peace in a foreign language (French, Spanish, Hebrew) and the other providing the English translation. Some of their comments were:
-“Peace is a place where there is no violence.”
-“I think that peace is somewhere where people are happy and loved. Somewhere where dreams can come true.”
-“We can achieve peace through acceptance.”
-“I believe that peace comes when there is freedom from persecution and respect for one another’s differences.”
“Peace is becoming your truest self.”
“Peace is the acceptance, understanding, and respect for the differences of others.”