Perspectives Restores Peace and Builds Peace Gardens
David Terry, (312) 604-2142, email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Perspectives Restores Peace on 9/11
Alison Thompson and Elizabeth Maldonado visit Perspectives Charter Schools to build Peace Gardens on day of Remembrance and Service
CHICAGO, IL – September 11, 2012 – Perspectives Charter Schools and humanitarian Alison Thompson paid tribute to 9/11 victims, survivors, and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks, on Tuesday, September 11, by building and planting peace gardens at Perspectives High School of Technology and Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy.
In response to the persistent gun violence on Chicago’s streets, students, teachers, parents and staff at Perspectives are asking “What will we do to restore peace in our communities?” Alison Thompson, humanitarian, volunteer, and globally conscious citizen, joined Perspectives students and community partners in commemorating the 9/11 Day of Remembrance and Service by building and planting a peace garden as a symbol of their commitment to eradicating violence in our communities. Moreover, students gathered in ‘peace circles’ to reflect on how to incorporate the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life® into actionable ways of restoring peace in our neighborhoods. A Disciplined Life® is the core curriculum that guides instruction and learning at Perspectives Charter Schools where students, parents, teachers and staff commit to Living A Disciplined Life® by adopting 26 principles that promote character development in line with academic excellence.
Inspired to act by the tragedies of 9/11, Thompson spoke to students about her personal experiences as a volunteer. She has been in the trenches from Ground Zero to Sri Lanka to Haiti in the aftermath of major natural disasters. She observed that “Gun violence is Chicago’s own tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake,” destroying families and communities. Thompson likened students to aid workers that “could do small deeds of service and by showing kindness they could restore peace and usher in an era of healing.”
Elizabeth Maldonado, mother of Perspectives graduate, Jeff Abbey Maldonado, Jr., class of 2008, addressed students about urban terrorism that took the life of her only son. “Just one day after his nineteenth birthday Jeff was brutally murdered by gang violence,” said Maldonado and “Jeff was a talented hip hop artist who wrote about peace and was a kind hearted and beloved by his community of Pilsen.” Together with her husband, Jeff Abbey Maldonado, Sr., they both work tirelessly to honor Jeff’s memory and legacy by advocating for peace and hope throughout Chicago.
Committing to restoring peace in our communities, students at Perspectives Tech and Math & Science Academy—who were joined by Joslin Campus students—shoveled and used garden spades as they prepared the earth for the planting of daffodil bulbs. Several students remarked that they had never gardened and found the experience of holding a bulb in the palm of their hands, planting it, and packing the bulbs into nutrient rich top soil to be very rewarding. Alternating between digging holes and planting bulbs, students gathered into ‘peace circles’ to discuss amongst themselves their ideas on how to restore peace and foster hope in the community. Several students shared personal stories of family and friends who had been slain or victimized by gun violence, some as recently as Monday. Students talked about combating gun violence through awareness, showing gratitude and making sound decisions in life. “Character education and academic excellence are accomplished through A Disciplined Life®, it is the common language between staff, students, and parents that guides our intellectual, social, and emotional pursuits,” said Julie Puzon, Principal of Perspective/IIT Math & Science Academy.
After the gardens had been built and planted the students and Thompson came together in a highly emotional peace ceremony where each student shared their reasoning for planting bulbs in the peace garden as a metaphor for future hope and growth toward more peaceful neighborhoods. “Watching the students work with Alison today to plant daffodils was amazing and inspiring,” said Wendy Irwin, Director of Strategy and Development at Yellow Tractor. She continued to say “I am inspired to see students at Perspectives taking the time to reflect on how they can improve our communities and through gardening remember in a symbolic and meaningful way their loved ones that have passed. Yellow Tractor, in partnership with Chalet Nursery donated the daffodil bulbs and soil for the Perspectives Peace Gardens.
Deja Swint, a 12th grader at Math & Science Academy noted that “It’s tough on our streets and I have to do what’s right to overcome what is going wrong in our neighborhood,” affirming her desire to ‘Take Initiative’—one of 26 principles of A Disciplined Life®.
Thompson shared clips from her documentary film based on her book, The Third Wave, released worldwide by Random House, sharing her experiences and the message that ‘everyone is needed’. Following Thompson’s presentation students formed long lines to offer a hug and their thanks clearly demonstrating that her words inspired hope and peace.