Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 | 7:19 p.m.
Students at J. Marlan Walker International School have learned it's good to accept their classmates, even when they might be a little bit different.
They showed off their solidarity during a display Jan. 30, where the entire school made its way to the playground to form a human peace sign.
The idea of acceptance and solidarity is reinforced each year through Peace Week, and this year's celebration, beginning Jan. 26, was the best yet, students said. The week is meant to reinforce values and teach students not to judge or bully others just because they're different.
"There's so much improving in this school," 11-year-old Kayla Samuels said.
Her friend, Ryleigh Johns, 10, agreed, noting attitudes in the school have changed a lot because of Peace Week.
"It's about respecting others," she said.
Once the students formed their peace sign, they sang, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," a song student Hunter Ericcson, 11, dubbed "the catchiest tune."
"I hate it," he said, only half-joking. "It gets stuck in your head and you can't get it out."
Beyond those events, students also had a chance to make peace bracelets and lanterns, decorate their doors with a peace theme, make a banner with "Ride the WAVE — We Accept and Value Everyone" written on it along with signatures of every student in the school, and decorate stars depicting what their perfect world would be.
"Peaceful" and "happy" were two of the more common suggestions.
The stars were hung around the hallways in hopes they would loop around all of the hallways. By the end of the week, not all of the stars had been placed on the walls, however.
This celebration was more active than previous ones, students said. There were nonstop activities going on in class and at recess to teach the students a sense of unity.
While it is fun, it also makes an impact, they said.
"It lasts for quite a long time," Ericcson said. "This has been my favorite one."
Frances Vanderploeg can be reached at 990-2660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.