Peace Pole added to Sanfordville's Memorial Peace Wall

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    WARWICK-Sanfordville Elementary School's Peace Wall has a new addition - a peace pole. The eight-foot tall, six sided wooden obelisk carries the words "may peace prevail on earth" in six languages. The pole was erected and dedicated Sunday, Sept. 19. About 150 teachers, parents and community members attended the ceremony, which featured poetry, talks and singing by students and local folksingers and dancers. An opening benediction was recited and danced by Sharon Newton, of the Amanivita Center for Personal Transformation. The pole, paid for by the K.A.R.E. Club in Warwick Valley High School, enhances a wall and fountain complex conceived, designed and brought to reality by third- and fourth-grade students in Beverly Braxton's class at Sanfordville Elementary as a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Since the Peace Circle, a stone wall with three fountains, was built, Beverly Braxton and her husband, Marvin, have led the effort to keep it and its associated gardens maintained. Frank Wolfe, the parent of one of the students involved in the project, said he assumed that when his son, Pierre-Francois, told him what his class was discussing, he thought it was just a class discussion to help get their feelings out. "I never dreamed that three years later I would be standing in front of a real wall and speaking to you." Wolfe, who acted as master of ceremonies, said the wall showed the courage of a teacher and principal who let the students take the lead in a project that clearly meant a lot to them. "Because she (Braxton) allowed the children to guide her, and she had a principal who was wise enough to support it, we have this memorial." Principal Roger Longfield, Town of Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Village of Warwick Michael Newhard all spoke, but the day really belonged to the kids. Students from the 2001 third and fourth-grade class talked about their feelings when the towers collapsed. Victoria Pennings of the high school K.A.R.E. Club said the club focuses on such questions as the environment, peace and animals. "We know kids can make a difference, we haven't had years of being influenced by the media," she said. Club member Hannah Colburn said the club agreed to use the money it had raised during the year to buy the peace pole. With the words "may peace prevail" in six languages - English, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Russian and Spanish - the pole will be "a constant reminder that people care about peace. Some 2,500 peace poles have been erected in 180 countries, she added. Pierre-Francois Wolfe, a Sanfordville alumnus, reminded the audience that we are "nothing but a speck in the universe, filled with trouble, so why can't we all work together to solve the problems?" Other students talked about their feelings when they learned of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and the current Sanfordville students recited Barbara Aiello's poem, "Kids are Different. Emma Tomko read her poem, which includes the lines, "Peaceful/ Everyone is/ Accepted and/ Cheers for peace ring out/ Everywhere." Following Emily Forman's reading of her poem, "Imagine," students sang John Lennon's song of the same name, led by folksingers Tina Ross and Doc Hirsch. Marji Zintz, a member of Gaia Wolf band, led the group in two song/chants. South African singer Sharon Katz, a white South African who early took up the cause of that nation's black majority, was unable to attend the ceremony. She sent a moving apology, read by Beverly Braxton. The program ended with the entire audience standing in a circle with each member expressing a thought of what "peace means to me."