Each elementary student chose a rock as part of this fall’s annual time of signing the school’s Peace Pledge. This is the 15th year that EMES students have signed the pledge, which highlights seven tenets (full listing below): To respect self and others; to communicate better; to listen; to forgive; to respect nature; to play creatively; and to be courageous.
This year, students created cairns or rock formations with the individual rocks they chose. They are keeping the cairns in their classrooms to remind them of their pledge and what it means to join individual efforts into a collective.
“Notice what draws you to the rock you choose,” encouraged Gini Trotter, elementary school counselor and peacebuilding teacher. “Choose one that reminds you of ways you might rest and become renewed during busy times this school year. Or pick a rock that will remind you of a peace practice you want to remember this year.”
Students across the K-12 school are exploring practices of rest and renewal, or Sabbath, this year. Peace practices are also emphasized throughout the school.
Students shared with their classmates about why those chose their rock and placed it in the center of the circle. “Just as a cairn, made up of many rocks, resembles welcome, balance, direction, and peace prayers, we can help one another as we seek balance and rest in our lives,” Gini Trotter told the students. “It takes all of us together to work toward peaceful relationships.”
After they created their classroom cairn, students reviewed and signed the pledge of nonviolence.
See images and coverage of the 2018 Peace Pledge signing when students washed each others’ hands as a symbol of serving one another.
The tenets are:
To Respect Self and Others — To respect ourselves, to affirm others and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful words, physical attacks and self-destructive behavior.
To Communicate Better — To share our feelings honestly, to look for safe ways to express our anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.
To Listen — To listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree with us, and to consider others’ feelings and needs rather than insist on having our own way.
To Forgive — To apologize and make amends when we have hurt another, to forgive others, and to keep from holding grudges.
To Respect Nature — To treat the environment and all living things, including our pets, with respect and care.
To Play Creatively — To select activities and toys that support our school’s values and to avoid activities that make violence look exciting, funny or acceptable.
To Be Courageous — To challenge violence in all its forms whenever we encounter it, whether at home, at school, or in the community, and to stand with others who are treated unfairly.
“This is our pledge. These are our goals,” closes the pledge. “Eliminating violence, one school at a time, starting with our own.”
The pledge — available in various forms for churches, families, schools and other organizations — was developed by The Institute for Peace and Justice in St. Louis, Missouri.