With brightly colored crayons in hand, fourth-grade students at North County Christian School in Atascadero on Thursday used words and pictures to illustrate what made them feel peaceful.
Nine-year-old Dana Weatherby’s eyes lit up as she waved down her teacher to tell her about a favorite family pastime that came to mind before she jotted down her words: “clam chowder.”
“I go surfing with my dad, and I eat yummy clam chowder after, because the ocean is so cold and it makes me feel good,” she said, delighted at the memory.
Art teacher Tisha Smith based the assignment on an international project she found online called Pinwheels for Peace that demonstrates one’s feelings of peace, tolerance and living in harmony.
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The idea was born seven years ago in Florida and grew into a movement that featured more than 4 million pinwheels displayed worldwide last year, Smith said.
The public can view the school’s decorated paper pinwheels — featuring works from kindergarten through 12th-grade students — on the lawn at Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens today. They will be displayed at the park, which is off El Camino Real, from the morning through the evening.
North County Christian’s high school art students were to help their younger schoolmates carry their pinwheels to the display area this morning.
Seventh- through 12th-grade staff and students are also wearing green yarn bracelets to “remind us of the power we have in bringing peace to others,” Smith said.
Thursday’s fourth-grade class began by brainstorming words associated with peace and writing those phrases on the white board.
“Forgiveness” was among the words displayed in thick green marker that stood out from other words such as “Lake” or “Park.”
“That came straight out of a fourth-grader’s mouth,” Smith said. “I didn’t prompt that one.”
Smith said it was difficult to summarize what she’s learned from her students’ reactions to the project. Mostly, Smith learned “that the kids really have a sense of peace, what it feels like and how it works.”
Eight-year-old JR Domenghini said watching the sunrise makes him feel peaceful. He pointed to a sun that he tinted in orange and yellow that was peeking over green mountains. Kelsey Cole, 9, said the colors of lollipops made her feel peaceful.
Nearby, Sabrina Noland, 10, was deep in thought, describing why the word “watermelon” meant peace to her. All of a sudden, she stopped mid-sentence with a sudden grin.
“Wait, I have to write something else,” she said, eyes quickly back to the project. “It’s swimming.”
According to the Pinwheels for Peace website, four schools and a nonprofit in San Luis Obispo County have adopted the project. The other participants are Dorothea Lange Elementary in Nipomo, Ocean View Elementary in Arroyo Grande, and Children’s House Montessori joined with Girl Scout Troop 40-525 in Atascadero.