High school promotes peace through the arts

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Amityville Memorial High School students joined together on Sept. 21 to celebrate the 2016 International Day of Peace, supporting the cause by forming a human peace sign on the school’s front lawn.

Partnering with organizations Peace One Day and Pinwheels for Peace, students from art classes, the National Art Honor Society and the Warriors Awareness Program, also known as the Wac Pac, took part in a 45-minute ceremony on a sunny morning. It was the seventh year that Amityville has participated in the international movement.

The program featured song and poetry performances by students, who also shared quotes about peace from historical figures. The Wac Pac, under the direction of advisor Jason McGowan, presented five peace rocks to students and staff, which will be then be passed on to others throughout the year in a “pay it forward” program to reward those who perform acts of kindness.

After a performance of “God Bless America” by Christian Bethea, Shanice Jacobs and Tyler Gil, and a moment of silence, students and teachers placed the colorful pinwheels they made on the lawn in the shape of a peace sign.

Art teacher Jayne Grasso, one of the organizers of the program, said the purpose was to teach students about tolerance and acceptance, while reminding them that their actions can make the world a better place. “This gives them an opportunity to take a stand and show that they can make a difference,” she said. “It’s a great way to start the year.”