LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Students at Myrtle Place Elementary filed onto the playground class-by-class Friday (Sept. 20) morning, converging along spray-painted lines that form a large heart shape and the letters P-A-I-X. The word is "peace" in French, fitting for the French immersion school's celebration of International Peace Day.
Once everyone was in place, a group of older elementary students sang "Lean On Me" as their teacher strummed a guitar. Their classmates clapped along when they got to the chorus.
Then it was time for the finale. The singers joined the giant heart, and Eric Breaux — a Myrtle Place dad and owner of a video production company — put his drone in the sky to take aerial shots.
"I like doing local projects, and you can't get more local than this," Breaux said.
Students and faculty held up peace signs and smiled at the drone above, much like last year when they made a human peace sign. That photo now hangs by the school's front office.
Standing at a microphone, Assistant Principal Jarvis Hebert encouraged students to "lead a peaceful life" from this day forward.
"We need more peace on this planet," he said.
This is the third year for the school to celebrate International Day of Peace, also called World Peace Day, which is observed globally on Sept. 21.
Established in 1981 by a unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day serves as a way for "all humanity to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace," according to InternationalDayofPeace.org.
The UN's website said the day is "devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples."
Myrtle Place shares that devotion to peace, promoting kindness and mindfulness in big and small ways. Students share a quote over the intercom every morning, and they collectively take breaths to release stress and focus on learning.
"If you are not psychologically or emotionally ready, you cannot learn," Principal Catherine Bricelj said.
Fifth-grader Harper Anderson is one of the students who reads the quote each morning and encourages classmates to follow it during the day. She was chosen to present a speech at the ceremony about Myrtle Place's goal to become a World Citizen-recognized Peace Site.
"Our teachers and staff work hard to improve attitudes and how students communicate with each other," Harper said in her speech. "... Myrtle Place Elementary is a school where we try to show how much we care and that we are all different but we all share love."
The school continued the observation of Peace Day with a moment of silence at noon.
Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com