Highland News Leader

PeaceBuilder program teaches character to primary students

From left, Highland Middle School teacher and coach John Coziar, Father Pat Jakel from St. Paul Church in Highland, Jeremiah Kingery of the Highland Police Department, Pastor Will VerDuin of Evangelical United Church of Christ, firefighter Nic Clasquin from St. Jacob, and nurse Emily Korte from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland all spoke to Highland Primary students during the school’s PeaceBuilder program assembly on Sept. 15.
From left, Highland Middle School teacher and coach John Coziar, Father Pat Jakel from St. Paul Church in Highland, Jeremiah Kingery of the Highland Police Department, Pastor Will VerDuin of Evangelical United Church of Christ, firefighter Nic Clasquin from St. Jacob, and nurse Emily Korte from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland all spoke to Highland Primary students during the school’s PeaceBuilder program assembly on Sept. 15. Courtesy photo

Each day, as you walk down the halls or visit the playground and cafeteria, you hear students at Highland Primary School using kind words and helping each other without being reminded or told to do so.

This is, in part, because of the PeaceBuilder program the school implemented in 1997. Every morning before going to their classroom, all Highland Primary students gather in the gym. Together, they recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and then they recite the PeaceBuilder pledge.

I am a PeaceBuilder. I pledge to praise people, to give up put downs, to seek wise people, to notice and speak up about hurts I have caused, to right wrongs, to help others. I will build peace at home, at school and in my community each day.

The Peacebuilder recited by Highland Primary Students

“The Highland School District has a lot of programs that promote great character. Our VIP program, several events throughout the district, and Outstanders at HE (Highland Elemenary) are just a few. At Highland Primary School, we use a program called the PeaceBuilders,” said Colleen Baker, music teacher at the Highland Primary School.

Highland Primary students launched their 2016-2017 PeaceBuilder program with a short assembly on Thursday, Sept. 15. Members of the community were invited to talk to the students about how they represent the PeaceBuilder pledge. John Coziar, Highland Middle School teacher and coach, spoke to the kids about praising people. Father Pat Jakel from St. Paul Church in Highland talked about how he encourages his congregation to give up put downs. Officer Jeremiah Kingery from the Highland Police Department shared with the students how he is a wise person to seek if they are in trouble. Pastor Will VerDuin of Evangelical United Church of Christ energetically helped the students to see how he helps people every day to notice and speak up about hurts they have caused. Firefighter Nic Clasquin from St. Jacob talked about righting wrongs as a firefighter, and nurse Emily Korte from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland told the students how nurses help others.

“Our guests also encouraged the students to be PeaceBuilders wherever they go,” Baker said.

At the end of the assembly, the school music teacher, Baker, led the students in singing the PeaceBuilder song. The students enthusiastically sang the song with both voices and sign language.

Highland Primary administration, teachers, and members of the PeaceBuilder committee invite everyone in the community to visit the school some time to experience what it is like to be a PeaceBuilder. It will change the way you look at your life and treat people around you.

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