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Students at York Academy Regional Charter School spent time Wednesday talking about how they can further peace in their everyday lives in celebration of International Day of Peace.

Om Jethwa and Olivia Kelshaw, two 9-year-olds in teacher Melissa Cook's fourth-grade class, spent time coloring doves and writing different words they associated with peace on cut-outs of their hands. Cook explained that the idea was to show students that peace begins with what they do every day.

Om and Olivia said the lesson helped them think of ways they could be peaceful at home. Olivia's mom is out of town on a business trip, and she wants to hang paper doves in their kitchen for her return. Om said he celebrates peace outside of the classroom by practicing his religion, which is different from how other Americans practice peace because he is Indian.

"They can see that peace begins with the things that they do every day," Cook said. "We talk about how they show peace every day by helping, smiling. When they grow up, hopefully they'll be making a difference globally."

David Goodwin, dean of students for York Academy, said celebrating International Day of Peace aligned perfectly with their goals as an International Baccalaureate school. For the last few years, the school has made the day a part of their curriculum in an effort to teach young kids that the world is much bigger than York County.

IB schools have a focus on teaching kids about worldwide issues and concepts. York Academy also incorporates character education into its lessons to teach students to be more mindful of what they do and how it affects others.

"The students have very diverse backgrounds, we have kids from 11 school districts," Goodwin said. "We bring students from different backgrounds and find a common ground. International Day of Peace ties into that."

Second-graders such as Hannah Lemke, Jayvin Barnes and Nyaila Alexander put promises on their "Peace Tree'ty," a paper tree hung in the hallway with leaves taped to it. Each leaf was a promise from a second-grader in Keri Schmid's class. The class also took photos of themselves holding up a paper dove and a peace sign in areas of the school they wanted to see peace.

"For them, they don't have an understanding that the world isn't peaceful," Schmid said. "They're shocked by that. It makes them realize they are lucky and think of ways how they can help."

Nyaila promised to be careful with her new baby nephew to help keep the peace in her household, and Jayvin wanted to bring more peace by helping animals find homes. They mentioned that their lesson helped them realize that everyone is different because there was a focus on writing peace in different languages.

"Peace is friendship, and friendship is beautiful," Hannah said while she was explaining her promise for peace.

The school also came together to create a dove that had different colored thumb prints inside of it. The goal was to show how everyone in the school is united, from teachers and students to janitors and volunteers. Art teacher Lindsay Hoke said that nearly everyone in the school participated.

"Art is a common ground, everyone can feel good about art," Hoke said. "It's a nice way to show our unity and respect for each other."

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