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Mike Riehls
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Ferry Elementary School students raise their pinwheels toward the sky before planting them in the ground in front of the school. photo by Nicol Brumme.

September 26, 2013
A group of Ferry Elementary School parents, students and staff gathered on the front lawn outside the school Saturday, Sept. 21, to plant pinwheels decorated with drawings and messages of peace, as part of the school's participation in the international art and literacy project, Pinwheels for Peace.

It's the school's first time participating in the project, which started in Florida in 2005 as a non-political way of having students express their feelings about the goings-on of the world around them.

At Ferry, students spent the past few weeks creating their pinwheels during Lyndsey VanMeter's art class. On one side, they wrote their feelings about war and peace, tolerance, and living in harmony with others, while the other side featured visual expressions of those feelings. Some drew, some painted, some collaged.

"We all had discussions about what peace meant to them and came up with lots of great ideas," said VanMeter, who originally heard of the project in 2006 as a student teacher in Farmington. "We wrote words of peace, we drew pictures of things that we thought were peaceful, and the thought is to spread our ideas throughout the community, that children's voices matter today in their community."

Similar commemorations were held at museums, public parks and schools around the world last Saturday, the International Day of Peace.

Since the first installation Sept. 21, 2005, which started with art teachers Anne Ayers and Ellen McMillian at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Fla., the project has grown to more than four million pinwheels planted, among which were those planted at Ferry elementary.

"I think it went excellent," said VanMeter, in her first year teaching in the Grosse Pointe Public School System. "I'm really happy with the turnout…and the students are really proud of their work and really proud to show their families about what they thought about peace.

"I think it's been really well received."

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