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Silver Bay Elementary School pupils create message of hope and peace

There is a new addition to the main entrance at the Silver Bay Elementary School.

The addition is a Peace Pole at the school that is located on Silver Bay Road in Toms River.

The school’s fourth grade teachers came up with the idea for the Peace Pole, which is 5 feet tall. The pole’s four sides have the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four languages – English, American Sign Language, Spanish and Lenni Lenape.

“The fourth grade teachers wanted to do something as a grade level. They wanted to display the different types of students enrolled at Silver Bay. They also incorporated lessons of peace into their lesson plans for the first six to eight weeks of school,” Principal Mike DeVita said.

The lessons included international pen pals, peace cranes (paper origami cranes) being sent to other schools and buildings, and a discussion about International Peace Day. The fourth grade teachers are Ann Estelle, Rhiannon Dekker, Lynda McGovern and Joy Danelson.

DeVita said 90 students participated in creating the Peace Pole with their teachers.

“I think this Peace Pole is important. The students are becoming the role models for adults. They were able to show acceptance of each other through this project. I think the Peace Pole will serve as a reminder for them to never lose sight of what they believe in. The lessons the teachers have incorporated have helped the students continue the idea of acceptance,” Supervisor of Instruction Courtney Norcross said.

Norcross said the Peace Pole and the lessons are strong positive messages for the children.

“The students helped decorate the Peace Pole. We had volunteers help get us material for the pole. It was truly a group effort, but the students are the ones who really did this. We are looking for them to be the change and help adults make changes, too,” DeVita said.

On Oct. 17, Silver Bay held a ceremony to unveil the Peace Pole in front of local officials and school administrators.

“I think it was important for the students to have local officials show their support for the Peace Pole project. It showed there were other adults in the community who cared about what the students were doing. I think it was also important for the teachers as well. This was an idea the teachers were passionate about and they got this project started, Norcross said.

Norcross said the school has another program with its fifth grade pupils.

“The students were trained over the summer to have positive communication with adults. The students were taught to shake hands, have eye contact and make certain they are positive role models. Those students helped with the Oct. 17 ceremony by seating our local officials and school officials at the event,” Norcross said.

DeVita said he hopes what community members take away from the Peace Pole is the idea of listening to other people’s thoughts and opinions, and coming together for a common cause to help each other.

“I hope everyone can emulate what our students are doing. If adults could look at how their children are at school, things would be in a better place. We hope this project has a positive impact on our parents and community,” DeVita said.

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