The visit began with a discussion led by representatives from every grade level sharing ideas of creating a peaceful environment for our school. Dame Morton-Marr concluded the discussion with some advice of her own, “the idea of a peace garden is to build peace with others. What you plant is what your garden is all about.” Peace gardens are utilized to help one refocus their mind and find a sense of balance. They help to put into perspective things that are really important in life and forget the little problems that don’t really matter. The students gathered around Dame Morton-Marr to hear her ideas reflecting the steps necessary to establish a more peaceful future. She said, “The idea of a peace garden is to build peace with others.” Her message has since fueled the student body to further build peace in the school community and beyond. The students and Dame Morton-Marr headed down the peace path to the elementary school’s peace garden. ULS initially started small with building peace by building a communal Peace Garden for all the students to share and enjoy. It runs from the high school to the elementary school, and is a beautiful way to connect the students. There the elementary read peace poems and sang songs to Dame Morton-Marr. Written from the heart, the elementary students’ poems were simple, sweet, and calming to listen to. Next, the Kindergarten and preschool students had a surprise of their own for Dame Morton-Marr. They sang peaceful songs such as, “With My Own Two Hands” and “Make New Friends,” while some of the upper class students joined in to show their support. Peace gardens represent our school, and even the world, on a smaller scale. They are utilized in lighthouse schools because the purpose of a peace garden is to bring a sense of harmony and amity in the community, which is something unusual for a high school setting. Therefore, schools who are trying to create a peaceful environments look up to lighthouse schools as examples of how to achieve such a community. What we do and how we act towards others show who we really are inside. If we sow metaphorical seeds of care, thanksgiving, harmony, and love, those same rewards could in return be reaped. This is so much bigger than just our school, it could be transcended into the greater community. Once we achieve peace in our school, we can spread it to our state, the country, and the rest of the world.
Sustainable peace and a sustainable future seems close to achieving with Ms. Tomita, Project Pono, and Dame Morton-Marr on our side. “Next year when I return,” Dame Morton-Marr said, “I want every school in the state to have a peace garden. I want peace not only for your school, but on an even larger scale. Maybe one big peace tree for the entire state. Perhaps all the schools with peace gardens in Hawaii can gather together as one,” she concluded. ULS is already on the yellow brick road to peace, and the Emerald City is nearly in sight. Dame Morton-Marr alone has influenced over 3,500 schools internationally with her vision of creating sustainable peace for a sustainable future. That means that over 3,500 schools have peace gardens, and the concept of building peace for future generations isn’t so far-fetched. Peace takes time to achieve, but if the proper steps are taken, we could be faced with a new sustainable and peaceful future for everyone.
On behalf of Dame Morton-Marr, our school is dedicated to peace. Peace within ourselves, peace in our school, and peace in the nature surrounding us.