FULLERTON : Seeing Peace Through a Child's Eyes

To Chantel Miller, peace means "being nice, helping, sharing, loving and caring for other people."

The 11-year-old girl demonstrated what she meant with about 700 other students at Orangethorpe Elementary on Wednesday as part of the school's ninth annual commemoration of the United Nations' International Day of Peace.

Students spent the morning shaking hands, hugging, singing, cheering, reciting poetry and using sign language to express their hopes for world peace.

"You should choose to be peaceful and stop all the hate and crime. There should be peace throughout the world," 11-year-old Beau Gordon declared after a fourth-grade class sang "We Are the World."

"We hope for peace because that way, we'll have a better life," said second-grader Chris Burgner, 8.

Added fourth-grader Matthew Mego, 10: "Peace is the greatest thing in the whole universe."

Ann Rose, the school's special-education resource specialist and Peace Day coordinator, said the purpose of the event is to teach children to think of ways to promote peace in school and life.

"We want them to learn that we can make a conscious choice to relate to other people in a peaceful manner and that it matters that each one of us make that decision," Rose said. "If you're going to have peace in the world, you must start with the children." Teachers said the event also helps students learn to resolve conflicts in a positive manner.

"Peace has to start from within, and small people can make a big difference, and then it spreads," said Gretchen Francisco, a third-grade teacher.

Fullerton School Board President Robert C. Fisler watched the activities, which culminated with the release of a large helium balloon carrying messages of peace from the students.

"There's a great feeling of unity here," he said. "This is an awfully nice feeling."

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