Sowing Seeds of Peace: VUHS Holds Fourth Annual Peace One Day Celebration

By Cookie Steponaitis

Making a visual representation of their commitment to peace is the VUHS Class of 2009.
photo by Cookie Steponaitis
Making a visual representation of their commitment to peace is the VUHS Class of 2009.

   Driving through the Vermont countryside we have all noticed the uniqueness with which nature, the wind and birds distribute and plant seeds. Growing alone in the midst of a corn field a giant sun flower stretches toward the heavens. Bunched together in a ditch, a sea of purple thyme blows in the breeze of an autumn afternoon calling attention to the hearty nature of plants and their determination to grow and bloom. Row after row of corn stretches toward a limitless goal of growth and bears witness to the changes of nature, weather and shaped by both. While the seeds were planted either deliberately or on the whim of nature, each has taken root, grown and focused on an individual path to bloom in the state we call home.

    For the fourth time, the entire school population of VUHS assembled in the front of the school to celebrate, discuss, reflect, challenge and listen to each other present their own concept of the idea of peace. Interwoven were songs, a Capella presentation, poems, stories, speeches and open dialogues from over thirty students who took the microphone and shared with all their feelings. Senior Alexandra Harris began her presentation with the concept that, “Peace is an idealistic goal that we as humans struggle to reach, but continue to march toward. We sing about it, we write about it, but we have a difficult time acting upon it.” She went on to ask everyone, “What do you do on a regular basis to support peace?” She concluded with a challenge to the audience “…to make a difference in their community and just don't make a fashion statement with your peace earrings and your groovy shirt. Make someone's day and help out. Flash a smile to those you wouldn't normally. Make peace at home because the world is your home.”

    The crowd responded positively to each speaker, their faces reflecting various stages of interest, reflection and concern. Others played in the cool fall air seemingly uninvolved in what was going on. Some sat alone and others huddled close with friends while the presentations unfolded. Co-principal Peter Reynolds called for a moment of silence in remembrance of those who served our country and those who are currently serving in the name of peace. Junior Tucker Harwood spoke quite forcefully about the changes in himself during the four years the school has been doing these gatherings and remarked that, “His journey had  taken him by surprise and he did not even recognize the feelings and thoughts of the person he was four years ago.”

    As the activities concluded and the sea of youth flowed once again into the ebbs and tides of the daily school schedule, the senior class gathered for a moment to form a peace signs with their bodies as a remembrance of the event and a statement of their conviction as a group that ideas planted today can and will impact the future. Seeds, sowed in the minds of a school, driven by students who collectively believe in an ideal, to see blooms now, later and in generations yet to come. As Martin L. King reflected, during that not so long ago day of change in a gathering at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  “One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.”     


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