An activity at Mount Wolf Elementary School encourages students to find their peace, while also giving them a creative outlet.

Principal Randi Payne said this is the first year the school held Pinwheels for Peace as a school-wide activity: In years past, it was held in individual classrooms over the course of a few days.

The school held its first Pinwheels for Peace event in September 2008. But students enjoyed the activity so much that it has become an annual program.

In the activity, students create a pinwheel that is supposed to represent what is peaceful in their lives. Students place the pinwheels in the school's yard in the shape of a peace sign.

Second-graders Ryker Emery, left, Jacob Eckenrode and Colin Fisher plant their pinwheels as part of a peace celebration at Mount Wolf Elementary School.
Second-graders Ryker Emery, left, Jacob Eckenrode and Colin Fisher plant their pinwheels as part of a peace celebration at Mount Wolf Elementary School. (Bil Bowden photo)

The school held an assembly for its students, who are in kindergarten through third grade. Guidance Counselor Michelle Overmiller read "Finding Peace," a children's book by Amy E. Ayers that encourages children to discover things that are peaceful to them.

The book gives examples of gardening, flying a kite or reading a book as hobbies that are peaceful. For those

activities, the book uses the symbol of a pinwheel, which students create by coloring a pinwheel template.

Overmiller said the activity reinforces the behavior rules the school tries to teach students.

"It ties in with so many of the character traits we talk about," Overmiller said. She said the school emphasizes ideas like acceptance, and the activity gives the children a chance to think about how they are peaceful.

Jalyn Himmelright, 8, said she has peace when she is with her family and friends. The third-grader said being peaceful at school includes being kind to others.

Alexa Coon, a kindergartner, said she experiences peace at home, too.

"I play outside and ride my bike in my driveway," Coon said.

Payne, the principal, said the goal for the younger students is to have them understand basic principles of how to treat other people well.

Payne said students in grades two and three start to grasp a deeper concept of compassion, which serves as a precursor for other initiatives in the district as they get older.

Mount Wolf is in the Northeastern Area School District. Pinwheels for Peace is an organization that encourages participants to be involved on the International Day of Peace, which is Sept. 21.

-- Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.