Gainesville Middle School art students spent this week learning about peace, love and understanding.They participated in an international art and literacy project, "Pinwheels for Peace," that featured them making, then planting the windmill-like paper crafts at a fence near a school parking lot.
"I wanted to teach the children about character and that it's OK to be nice to each other," said art teacher Christine Noah.
Students in sixth through eighth grades took part in the project, which culminated with International Day of Peace on Friday.
The students planted the pinwheels Tuesday and Wednesday, as Noah was concerned about a rainy forecast toward the end of the week.
Eighth-graders in her Visual Arts I class spent Friday morning plucking rain-splashed pinwheels out of the ground and shrubbery and off a chain-link fence.
Students also had made colorful signs, including one that featured the campaign's slogan, "Imagine ... whirled peace!"
They had scribbled other messages as well, such as "Be peaceful every day."
Pinwheels for Peace was started in 2005 by art teachers Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan in Coconut Creek, Fla., "as a way for students to express their feelings about what's going on in the world and in their lives," according to the project's Web site, www.pinwheelsforpeace.com.
"The project was quickly embraced by their students and the entire school community," according to the site.
Noah has worked with Gainesville Middle students on the project since 2005.
"The main thing is asking what does peace mean to them," she said. "Symbolically, the message gets out through the air" by means of the pinwheels.
Students removing the pinwheels Friday morning said the project was fun.
Adrias Henry, 13, said she liked "making (them with) different colors, seeing them spin and then get wet."
And Chaney Jenkins, also 13, said the class earlier in the week watched the movie "Gandhi," which depicts the life of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the nonviolent resistance movement against British colonial rule in India.
To her, peace means that "everyone can be equal."
"We need to stop violence so there can be peace in the world," Chaney said.
© 2007 The Gainsville Times