I, like everyone else in the country, was devastated by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I spent the weekend trying to shield my almost 5-year-old daughter from the TV and the despair that seemed to loom no matter where we went.
Heading to work Monday morning to face 30 10- and 11-year-olds at Rashkis Elementary, I knew they would have questions and need an outlet of response. Before the shootings, I had planned for my students to write Peaceful Poems of their own, after sharing and reflecting on poems from the book Peaceful Pieces given to me by one of my students. My thoughts were that the holidays are a time for celebrating peace and hope and the book and poems would be a nice tie-in.
Little did I know how appropriate the assignment would align in helping my students deal with the emotions they were sorting through. As we briefly acknowledged the shootings, I told the students our focus should be on three main points:
• We are safe here at school. There are millions of children all across the nation who went to school Friday morning who were safe and protected. We need to remember that school is a safe place for us and not let fear overtake our actions.
• We have a responsibility (being the oldest in the school) to not discuss the topic of the shootings in front of younger students whether that be on the playground, the bus, or in the cafeteria. I shared it was hard enough for adults to process what happened and small children did not need to be burdened with that, so they needed to be very careful with their conversations.
• Instead of breeding an atmosphere of fear, we could spread peace, hope, and love and try to help a hurting nation heal by focusing on those things. Then, after reading a selection of poems on peace I told students about their assignment to write Three Poems of Peace. They had two nights to complete the task.
I had hoped the assignment might help the students process their feelings while focusing on something calming, more positive, than the actual horror of the situation. Even though the poems werent due until Wednesday, many students arrived Tuesday morning eager to share their Peaceful Poems. As the poems have continued to come in, I was inspired by the maturity, the depth of reflection, and the honesty shared in the poems. Some of the students suggested we send some of our poems to the students at Sandy Hook Elementary and one student took the initiative to find the address where such messages could be sent. Given this was a tragedy that indirectly seemed to affect us ALL, I wanted to share some of them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do. Bradey Scott is a fifth-grade teacher at Rashkis Elementary.Gunfire
It beats in my heart,
The shot of the gun still rings,
And my spirit freezes.
As we mourn, grieve, and feel sorrow
For those who were lost,
We realize that even though we lost our loved ones,
We still have hope, and love, and compassion
And we will heal as long as we spread them.
Peace must maintain, or all will fail.
No matter what religion you are, or what race, or even how old you are,
All will be good
Bad will not prevail,
And our loved ones will be proud as they watch from above.
Life will go on and we will not forget them.
The wind blows, the breeze whispers,
Peace is back, have hope, and have faith.
As we let this settle, our spirits are no longer frozen.
They start to rise, even soar, the gunfire silences,
And all is calm. Ankita age 10The Peaceful Club
You never need an invitation
To join the peaceful club.
Just hug someone you know
And spread your love.
Spread your love far and wide
And those who receive it will treasure it inside.
If there is peace in our world
There is no need for fear,
So keep peace alive
And dont shed a tear.Audrey age 11Peace Within
Love is the KEY
To open the lock of hate on the treasure chest heart.
You open up, look inside,
There is PEACE.Ada age 10Planting Seeds
Peace and love come through in small things
Like picking up pencils and the smile that it brings
Even just talking, or playing a game
Can affect people in a way quite the same.
Deep from our hearts well do a good deed
Which in another heart will plant a seed.
Soon that seed will bloom with care
And plant a seed in the heart of someone unaware.
Even when they give stickers at the bank
It gives me a reason to thank
All the peace and love in Chapel Hill
Where seeds and flowers are blooming still.Kayla age 10Replacement
The stormy, thundering cloud
To reveal a bright, cloudless sky
A rainbow forms overhead
Replacing the dark, violent night. Jusung age 11Hope Within Us
We all know that the victims bodies are
But their souls live within us,
Within ALL of us.
If we all dwell on it there is no hope,
But if we pick ourselves up,
There IS hope.
Charlotte, Rachel, Olivia,
Dylan, Jesse, Ana, Grace,
Anne, Emilie, Noah, Jessica,
Lauren, Mary, Victoria,
Daniel, Josephine, Madeline,
Catherine, Chase, James, Jack,
Caroline, Avielle, Benjamin,
Are all people we wont forget.
They were all great people.
They had families that cared for them.
In America, we shouldnt judge people
By family members, by race,
By whats on the outside.
We should judge on the inside.
The shooters family is not to blame.
When something brings you down
No matter how bad it is
We get up
There is always hope and sunshine,
But when the clouds and gloom
We can always
Within us.Will age 10Moonlight
I lay down my head,
And slowly close my eyes,
Darkness fills my mind.
A vision appears,
It doesnt feel like me,
It feels like fear,
And has rage inside.
It feels like a shadow,
Living in a dark world,
Where people hate each other
And get killed by the second
There is no love,
No one cares.
The world is a shadow devouring every life form,
Into a black hole,
Darkness and hate,
My mind is filled with darkness again.
I cant wake up
I cant get out,
Finally my eyes open,
Out the window, I see the moonlight.
Thank you moonlight.
Thank you.Carolyn age 10Love and Peace
When hatred was in my mind
There was no peace.
When love was in my mind,
Peace came to me.
I love you.
You love me.
So we are peaceful.
I dream of a world filled with love and
peace.Eric Age 10
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