On May 29th, 2008, the students and staff of Lewis and Clark held a peace fair to celebrate the opening of the new Peace Path that was built on the school playground. The school community is hoping to landscape the lawn within the path with native plants and border the path with large rocks.
The peace path started with a conversation among the students of Mrs. Dungan’s multi-age classroom and Ms. McAllister’s fourth grade classroom. Mrs. Dungan and Ms. McAllister have worked together with their classes the past four years on issues of peace and tolerance. Mrs. Morrison, the music teacher, helped in the collaboration and guidance of the group every Thursday morning throughout the year. In the fall of 2007, the children brainstormed ideas of what their “peace group” would like to accomplish over the course of the school year. In addition to continuing their fundraising efforts for the Pennies for Peace project, one student suggested building a peace path where students could walk and ponder, wonder, mosey, stroll and generally, have a place where they could feel peaceful. The group and teachers supported the idea and the seed was planted.
Ms. McAllister contacted a friend of hers who is a concrete contractor about the idea. He told her it could be done and offered to supply the labor. He thought he could get the cement donated as well. The peace group then brainstormed design ideas. Ms. McAllister’s accelerated math group then measured and mapped out the path on a grid with the help of two parents and a landscape architect.
In addition to the path, the classes wanted to involve the whole school in the process. Over 700 river rocks were collected and each student and teacher designed and painted a rock with their vision of peace. The rocks were to be placed in the path when the concrete was poured.
The construction of the path began in early May. Sommers excavating dug the initial trench for the path. DeNeve/Kahl Concrete then spent several days building and making the forms for the concrete. Gravel that provided the foundation for the path was donated by Knife River. By the second week in May, the concrete, donated by L.S. Jensen, was ready to be poured. Over the course of two days, as the concrete was poured, students from each classroom filed out to place their rocks in the path. The concrete took about a week to “cure”. Several parents volunteered their time to paint an acetone finish over the path to preserve the painted rocks. A ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the opening of the path on May 29th.
There is still a lot of work to be done. The path needs to bordered, native grasses and plants planted inside the path, and signage telling how the path should be used are future projects that will be worked on over the course of the 2008-2009 school year. Lewis and Clark School is grateful for the tremendous community support for this project. It couldn’t have been accomplished with the efforts and donations of businesses like DeNeve/Kahl Concrete, Sommers Escavating, L.S. Jensen Concrete and Knife River. The students and staff at Lewis and Clark are excited to have a place of peace like this on their school grounds!