“May Peace Prevail on Earth” was the message celebrating the installation of Peace Poles at Evergreen Elementary School Dec. 10. The phrase is posted on the monument in eight different languages: Lushootseed (the first nations language of the Key Peninsula and environs), English, Norwegian, Croatian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Yoruba (of West Africa).
The purpose of the Peace Pole Project is to serve as a reminder “to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony.” Since the first poles were erected in Japan in 1983, there have been over 200,000 installed in 200 countries around the world at public gathering places.
The Evergreen dedication date was Peace Day in Norway, the day the Nobel Peace Prize is celebrated.
Evergreen Principal Hugh Maxwell introduced student Aedan Underwood, who led the assembled group in the Pledge of Allegiance and then introduced Bob Anderson, who has been an advocate for the Peace Pole Project since 2001.
Anderson represented Rotary Club North and the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor; he also chairs Rotary’s Sister Cities program. He announced that the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor had established Sister City partnerships with Bodø in Norway and Brač in Croatia to promote cultural and student exchanges, economic development, green industry, and philanthropy.
Lise Kristiansen, honorary Norwegian consul to the state of Alaska, spoke to the value of building international understanding through partnerships with communities in other countries. Her son, Espen Kristiansen, addressed the heritage links between the KP Peninsula, Gig Harbor and Norwegian area of Bodø.
The monument inspired Evergreen fourth-grade teachers Robyn Enders and Alena Shepard to ask students about their understanding of the peace pole at the entrance of their school.
Fourth-grader Piper Schumann said, “In my opinion, peace is very outspoken and free; free of all violence and rage. Our generation is going through tough times. Children all over the world are adapting to the changes that affect us all. Peace will cure the world.”
As a complement to the peace pole, students decided to express their thoughts through art. “This is how the rock garden idea came to be,” Enders said. “Students decorated rocks to place around the base of the pole depicting images and words that expressed ideas of peace. As more students and their families add to the garden, it will serve as a collective reminder of Evergreen’s commitment to promote peace in our school, community and families.”
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