The oversized yellow-on-white signs were half the size of the Leo F. Giblyn School fourth-graders who took part in the 10th annual Peace Walk on May 4. Their message: “May Peace be in Our Hearts,” “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” “May Peace be in Our Communities,” “May Peace be in Our Schools.”
Hundreds of students, family members, teachers and administrators from all of Freeport’s public schools wore yellow and carried signs with messages of peace as they walked for a mile around Freeport High School.
“The walk is good, and it’s always good exercise,” Freeport mother Yesenia Espinal said. “This gets people together. You get to meet new faces, but the kids get to see how the community comes together.”
Planned and hosted by Freeport Cares, the Peace March is a biannual school event held in the fall and spring. Each march takes place at a different school, and promotes peace in the village and schools throughout the year. The Freeport School District’s superintendent, Kishore Kuncham, has said that the marches are an opportunity for the entire school district to come together.
In the opening ceremony, the J.W. Dodd Middle School jazz ensemble and students from all four Freeport elementary schools performed songs dedicated to peace.
“Today, as with every day, we are joined here in peace,” Board of Education Trustee Ronald Ellerbe said. “We often speak of our wish for world peace, our ideal of freedom, peace and happiness among all people and nations. It includes solving differences through means other than war and showing caring and kindness through humanitarian efforts for those in need.”
To commemorate the 10th year of marches, Librada Paz, a Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2012 Human Rights Award recipient, was on hand. Paz is known for her advocacy for farmworkers’ rights. With the help of Board of Education Trustee Ernest Kight, she unveiled Freeport High School’s peace pole, which is adorned with “May there be peace in our schools” and “May there be peace in our communities.”
“I’m very happy to see a lot of people working [together] to make peace in our nation, worldwide,” Paz said. “I’m proud to be here with all of you.”
This is the third peace pole dedicated in the past year in the Freeport School District. Others are at the Archer Street School and the New Visions School.
“We can use our thoughts to become peace,” Ellerbe said. “We are peace, and peace is our true nature.”
After the march, participants were welcomed at the high school cafeteria for snacks and water at a Health and Wellness fair, which provided screenings, health insurance information and access to community resources.