International Day of Peace Celebrations

Oliver Gooderham '18

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Earlier this fall on September 21, Sophomore Kennedy Barnes ’21 participated in the International Day of Peace, an event for which she planned, choreographed, and eventually taught two separate dances to the sixth and seventh grade students. With religion as the theme for this year’s International Day of Peace, Barnes wanted to incorporate some sort of religious influence into the dances, eventually choreographing about a minute of one dance to a gospel version of “This Little Light of Mine,” celebrating the Christian faith. She choreographed another dance to join an additional song pertaining to the Hindu religion.

Prior to this event, the Performing Arts Teacher for the middle school, Sara Gaines, had sought out Barnes to teach dance to the middle schoolers, as she had gained herself a strong reputation by choreographing the eighth grade musicals the past two years. When asked about Barnes, Gaines stated that, “She worked well with kids in the past, especially in the middle school.” Gaines has been a part of the committee in charge of organizing the International Day of Peace, the creation of which stemmed from student input to implement more diversity-based activities into student life. Before the school year began over the course of two days, this committee came together themselves and focus on a central theme, organizing and planning the event according to what had been decided, ultimately aiming to further educate students about equality and diversity within our community.

For the past two years during late September, middle school students celebrated the International Day of Peace. For the first year, the focus of the celebration revolved around racial equality, having students watch a documentary regarding random acts of kindness that was followed by teacher led workshops to discuss both the film and other topics involving racial equality. These classroom exercises were followed by step dancing led by the Christina Cultural Center. Freshman Max Leffler ’22, who was a middle school student at the time, recalls the film stating, “It was really moving,” adding that, “Most people seemed to have enjoyed it!” In addition, the students were given the opportunity to meet and hear from cartoonist Robb Armstrong, author of the comic strip “Jump Start,” which revolves around a black police officer and his family living in Philadelphia, Armstrong’s hometown.

For the second and most recent year, similar activities were planned for the middle school students, but this time with Kennedy teaching the students to dance. When asked about her experience, Kennedy beamed, saying, “I love introducing people who have never danced before into a little piece of what I do everyday. I would definitely do it again. It was exciting to see them pick up choreography and execute it with their own styles.” The International Day of Peace event also held some significance to Gaines. When asked how she enjoyed helping organize the event for the kids, she answered, “Absolutely-diversity is an issue near and dear to my heart and so have been active with that in the past. I believe this is very important for both the school and for part of our core beliefs as a school.”

 

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