Students Honor 'Upstanders' in Peace Week Celebration
Each January, Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences celebrates Peace Week with lessons and activities that honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while also exploring the broader concept of peace that inspired and guided him. This year’s theme was “Upstanders.”
UPSTANDERup·stand·ernouna person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.
To help introduce the concept at the beginning of the week, students watched a short video about a youth upstander from Baltimore who spearheaded a campaign that successfully prevented a trash incinerator from being built in her community.
Art Teacher Sarah Eargle, who chairs the School’s Diversity Committee and helped to organize this year’s program, shared a list of inspiring upstanders from throughout history and including current role models to whom students can relate. She also displayed a collection of art posters depicting youth upstanders outside the art studio. The Peace Week Committee asked each grade to choose an upstander to honor at a schoolwide assembly.
School Librarian Mrs. Walsh set aside a collection of picture books all the way up to detailed biographies and chapter books with inspiring and empowering stories. Throughout the week, in classes as well as in Advisory and Buddy groups, students learned about the qualities and importance of upstanders.For instance, first and fourth graders worked in Buddy Groups to talk about “superpowers” that they would want to see in an upstander, such as empathy, helping others, and kindness. They then made drawings of their superpowers.
Each class developed a book page and a short presentation (video, song, poem, or other expression) highlighting their upstander’s actions. The book pages will be compiled into a book commemorating the 2019 Peace Week.
The Friday afternoon assembly started with Barnesville’s traditional “March for Peace” into the gymnasium, with students carrying a variety of posters and the treasured felt dove. Each grade then shared their presentations before lighting a candle in honor of the work done by each chosen upstander. The Peruvian exchange students also lit one candle as a symbol of cross-cultural unity.
Peace Week activities and traditions are an important part of Barnesville's Character Education program.Extended programming will take the form of book clubs that will meet once a month in order to continue facilitating the conversation around upstanders.