Heading east on Archer Street, dozens of Freeport students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and local and state elected officials marched toward Bedell Street on Sept. 29 in the community’s annual 5K Peace Walk.
The event celebrates the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, which has been marked each year on Sept. 21 since 1981.
This year, the Freeport School District unveiled a peace pole in front of Archer Street Elementary School. The addition of the pole is a part of a larger initiative worldwide — the Peace Pole Project. The pole represents a silent prayer for peace on earth, according to the Peace Pole Project. Archer School Principal Paula Lein said she hopes it will keep peace at the forefront of students’ — and residents’ — minds.
“Now more than ever, we need to appreciate and respect each other and find ways to make our lives harmonious and joyful,” Lein said. “Let’s all strive for world peace, and that begins right here and right now.”
This is the second peace pole “planted” at a Freeport school, with the first one unveiled at New Visions School last year. Superintendent Dr. Kishore Kuncham said he believes the initiative will spread to other Freeport schools, which the district is open to.
“Peacemakers and peace leaders have taken part in the Peace Pole Project,” Kuncham said, “including the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, former President Jimmy Carter and so many others. We are joining that group today by dedicating the peace pole before we begin our peace walk.”
The newest Freeport pole includes the words, “May there be peace in our schools” and “May there be peace in our communities.” After the dedication ceremony, students took to the streets to promote those messages.
Kristen Jones-Thom, a Freeport High School alumna who is now a third-grade teacher at Bayview Avenue School, took part in the walk to set an example for her students. With a smile, she said she looked forward to the walk every year because it also gave her an opportunity to reconnect with former classmates and neighbors.
“It’s a great feeling to see everyone come together,” Jones-Thom said. “I encourage people to come to join us and just celebrate with us.”
After the walk, refreshments were served at the Archer School, and there was a book giveaway.