The peace pole is adorned with “May peace prevail” in eight languages: American Sign Language (ASL), Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The chosen dialects represent the diverse heritage of Highland, said Debra Maietta, Volunteer Community Chair of the event.
“Peace poles symbolize the oneness of humanity and our common wish for world peace. They remind us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony... It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 peace poles in the world. Now Highland Elementary has its own,” said Maietta, at a formal flag ceremony presenting the monument.
The event was attended by Superintendent Deborah Haab, Principal Joel Freer and School Board Members Tom Miller and Maria Peterson, who congratulated the girls on their achievement.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, I’d like to say thank you for your good citizenship,” said Haab. “Congratulations on a job very well done.”
Freer noted that the new pole would be a welcome addition to Highland Central Schools, a district that boasts two additional peace poles: one at the Highland Middle School’s Peace Park and one at the Highland High School’s newly rededicated Shakespeare Garden.
“I am so honored and privileged to accept this gift on behalf of [Highland Elementary]. This will serve as a reminder to all our students that peace must prevail on earth, and it must start with us,” said Freer.
The achievement represents two years of fundraising by the Girl Scouts of Highland. The pole will be permanently installed in the elementary school lobby.
After the ceremony, the Thinking Day celebration continued with an exploration of different world cultures represented by each participating troop. Thinking Day, traditionally celebrated on Feb. 22, is an annual event celebrated by both Boy and Girl Scouts. It encourages scouts to think about their fellows around the world, and to celebrate the global achievements of scouting. Troops representing Australia, Egypt, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Switzerland and the United States shared what they learned about their countries’ WAGGGS (World Organization of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) and shared multicultural snacks. Girls snacked on biscotti in “Italy” and colored Swiss flags and St. Bernards at the Switzerland table.
Hannah Ghaly, 8, of Brownie Troop 60319 said she was proud to participate in the Thinking Day event. A student at Highland Elementary School, she said the peace pole would serve as an important reminder for students, “because it’s a symbol of our freedom and how the soldiers fought for our land.”
Her troop chose to represent India, and prepared by coloring pictures, reading books and learning facts about the country.
“The number zero was created there,” she said.
For more information on Peace Poles visit www.peacepoles.com. Or for information on Girl Scouts of the USA, visit http://www.girlscouts.org.