The Peace Project: Todd Parr and Pioneer Middle School

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Students and Author Team up to Promote Peace

By Ben Carlson

As part of a yearlong service-learning project students from Pioneer Middle School in Plymouth, Michigan in collaboration with nationally renowned author Todd Parr, of The Peace Book, will be traveling to New York City on April 3, 2009 to promote peace.

The Peace Project has allowed Pioneer Middle School to create a community of peace within the Plymouth-Canton School District. Peace is a global concept that the entire world can embrace. It transcends age, race, economic status and gender. It is the very fiber on which this country was created and is an important concept to embrace and examine through education. Eighth grade students from Pioneer Middle School will study the concept of peace across the curriculum through their language arts, social studies, and art classes. They will gain a deeper meaning of this concept and the impact peace has on the community in which they live.

This year’s project began with a celebration of International Peace Day. Pioneer invited Parr to come and share his book with the community on September 23, 2008. During his visit, Parr spoke at Pioneer Middle School, Farrand Elementary School, and held an evening presentation and book signing at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Northville, MI.

During that same week, eighth graders traveled to every elementary school and read The Peace Book to the second graders. The students will continue their collaboration by creating their own Peace Book. Second graders will be empowered to use their imaginations to define the concept of peace. The project will help students focus on the elements of community, exploring cultural and historic notions of identity, strengthening writing skills and expressing thoughts and feelings through the visual arts. The students will gain a deeper understanding of who they are, what a community is, the important role they play in the community, and the impact they have on the world around them. As a culminating project, each classroom will be able to publish their own “peace” book. The collection of Plymouth-Canton Peace Books will be on display in the spring at Plymouth Community Arts Council in conjunction with the Behind the Lens art exhibition in late May of 2009.

As a “random act of peace” on April 3, students will read and pass out copies of The Peace Book to people on the streets of Manhattan (Fifth Avenue, Central Park and Union Station). In addition to The Peace Book, people will also be receiving a peace “gift bag” that will contain promotional material from the following organizations: Yoko Ono; One; UNICEF; Pennies for Peace; Share Our Strength; American Association of Teachers of French; Teaching Tolerance; Peace One Day Project; Vote Smart; Amnesty International; Arbor Day Foundation; American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages; American Library Association; Putumayo Kids; Soles 4 Souls; American Community Garden Association; Shelterbox; United Nations; Junior Tours; Little Brown.