Local Schools

Peace message goes spiral

St. Ann School plants pinwheels to remind community: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’


by Jessica Langdon
jessica@theleaven.org 

PRAIRIE VILLAGE — People who passed by St. Ann School here in late September were treated to a dazzling vision of “whirled peace.”

Hundreds of bright, handcrafted pinwheels spun in the breeze in front of the school on Mission Road.

“It looked like a bunch of colors,” said first-grader Avery Guck.

Students and faculty hope their “pinwheels for peace” will translate into a message of world peace. The entire school helped plant this colorful reminder of the need for unity, harmony and serenity.

Art teacher Kathy Orel and principal Becky Akright got the idea spinning, and the project circled through the entire school.

Students at St. Ann are paired with “buddies” in other grade levels, and older students helped their younger buddies with their pinwheels.

Seventh-graders Clara Taylor and John Ryan created their own pinwheels first. Once they were experts in designing, cutting and constructing, they helped assemble a pinwheel for Avery, their first-grade buddy.

“It’s really fun,” said Avery. “First, you just decorate a square, and then you add color on the back and on the front.” She used rainbow colors, added pink, colored the back orange, and put a peace sign in the middle.

After an all-school Mass on Sept. 21 — International Day of Peace — students filed outside with their buddies. They proudly planted their pinwheels for peace for the world to see.

“I think it just looks so beautiful,” said Avery.

Akright loved seeing the roughly 450 pinwheels all together.

“They — appropriately — look like children made them,” she said with a smile, “which makes them even more beautiful.”
The pinwheel project fits in with St. Ann’s theme for this year: “Let us do everything with great love.”

“We’ve really come together as a school,” said John, “and we’re trying to make the world a better place.”

Clara had swimming practice the night the school put out the pinwheels. Some of her friends approached her and said, “I saw your school on the news. I think it’s really cool that you guys are doing this.’”

John hoped the pinwheel display could turn around a bad mood for someone driving by and highlight ways to help others.

“It just kind of brings their whole day up,” he said.

It also inspires students to look after each other during the school day — for instance, by making sure everyone has someone to sit with at lunch.

“I think it’s definitely influenced me about peace. I think it has influenced a lot of people here at St. Ann,” said John. “I think it will bring us together a whole lot more.”

Clara liked the effort everyone put into the project.

“We really did want this to be as good as it was,” she said. “We wanted everyone to put their unique touch on the pinwheels.”
Bringing the school’s theme of doing all things with great love to life takes far more than merely knowing the words.

“A school can pick a theme and put it on a banner and just leave it alone,” said Akright. Not here, though.

“We want to live our theme,” she said.

So every month, the students are taking on a new project: one that reflects the overall theme, while specifically demonstrating one of the beatitudes.

September’s pinwheels tie into “Blessed are the peacemakers,” while October’s project will highlight “Blessed are the merciful.”

Akright loves seeing so many students focused on “doing everything with great love.”

“I’m so proud of our teachers and our kids and how they’ve just taken this theme into their hearts,” said Akright. “I hear them mentioning it a lot.”

It took time to get all the pinwheels ready, and the work proved to be worth it.

“It shows we really do care, and we’re not just doing this because our teacher told us to,” said John.

“We all did it together as one school,” said Clara.

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Jessica Langdon

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