Kentwood students spinning a message of peace

Art students at Kentwood High School this past week were hard at work putting their thoughts about peace onto small pinwheels, which were displayed Sept. 21 as part of International Peace Day.

Tim Pettit

Tim Pettit

Art students at Kentwood High School this past week were hard at work putting their thoughts about peace onto small pinwheels, which were displayed Sunday as part of International Peace Day.

Hundreds of the small, paper peace offerings were set up in Foss Circle near the school Saturday evening and taken down the following night, an apolitical statement in support of a more peaceful planet.

“It’s not meant to be political,” art teacher Leslie Armstrong said. “It’s just a beautiful gesture.”

Armstrong said she discovered the project this summer while doing “usual teacher stuff”: searching the Internet for ways to put a “new spin” on her projects, no pun intended.

Armstrong stumbled across the Pinwheels for Peace Web site, which called for students around the planet to “Visualize Whirled Peace” – pun intended this time.

“I saw it and it intrigued me,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong said she offered it to her students, although the project is not being graded.

“They’re doing it because they thought it would be fun to participate in something important,” she said.

Working from a template, the students decorated one side of their pinwheels with colors or designs and the other side with words encapsulating their feelings on war, peace, tolerance and harmony.

Sh-nae Legras, 17, decorated her pinwheel with her favorite colors and covered the back with the words “faith,” “hope,” “peace” and “love.”

“It seemed like fun, peaceful words,” she said.

Legras said she hoped people would see the display and stop and think about International Peace Day, Sept. 21.

“I think participating in it is really important because we need more peace in our world,” she said.

Kara Yamaguchi’s project includes the words “peace,” “love,” “joy” and “harmony” repeated over and over in bright colors.

“When you think of a world without war, those are the words that come to mind,” Yamaguchi, 15, said. As for the colors, Yamaguchi changed her mind for her original concept, picking pinks and purples.

The swirling purples and oranges of Allen Newby’s pinwheel were inspired by Jimi Hendrix and the language on the other side was from the Bible’s 2 Corinthians.

Iman Khorrami, 17, went in a different direction, choosing an American flag as the motif for his pinwheel, with the words “peace” and “love” repeated over and over on the back.

“I thought it kind of represents peace,” he said. “That’s what America is trying to do.”

Armstrong said getting the kids thinking about peace and how to represent the concept gets to the heart of an artist’s role. She noted that making art helps contribute to peace.

“The arts are the thing we do that separates us from other creatures,” she said.

“That kind of activity, when done, contributes to peace.”

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