BY SABRINA WONG AND KAREN SUROS
Peace Week at CCHS took place from September 17 to September 21, 2018. This annual event was filled with spirit days, challenges, performances and a strong sense of unity- but that’s just the beginning.
Students may recognize the event from its initial introduction last year when the Student Government Association (SGA) held it in wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. However, this year, Multicultural Club hosted Peace Week and all of its festivities.
“This year [having] Multicultural Club [in charge], we decided to transform it [Peace Week] into something ten times bigger… [and] more interactive,” Co-President of Multicultural Club Ayana Fitzgerald said.
In the previous year’s Peace Week, poetry performances from the Met Gala were shown during study halls. Continuing on the tradition, performances, acts and shows were presented again this year in personalization. A big contrast that distinguishes last year from this year, however, is the planning of the actual spirit days. This time around, more extensive planning was put into the week’s activities.
Peace Week consisted of each day having a set type of apparel to wear, a new challenge and an activity.
Peace Week commenced on Monday, which was “I Heart Unicorns” day. Students honored former ninth-grade English teacher Nicole Hobin by wearing a shirt with unicorns and/or hearts on it. Ms. Hobin passed away before the school year began, and unicorns were her favorite mythical animal.
“This day is probably the most important to me,” Fitzgerald said. “Ms. Hobin was one of my teachers and she was such a big part of my life, so to see a bunch of kids participating and dressing out in the unicorn wear and the heart wear- it really meant the world to me.”
After school on Monday, many clubs were invited to Chalk4Peace, a volunteer project with participants from all around the world. Since its beginning in 2003, it has become a global tradition where young artists seize the opportunity to express themselves creatively. The activity was incorporated into Peace Week, allowing CCHS students to enjoy the experience
The event sported an impressive roster: Blessings in a Backpack, Poetry Club, Chorus, Environmental Club, French Club, Key Club, Future Medical Professionals of America and Best Buddies were just a handful of the organizations that were present. Representatives of each club were directed to designated sidewalk blocks and walkways around campus. They were all given chalk to create drawings promoting peace at CCHS and the rest of the world.
“I feel like I’ve gained a sense of unity and a chance to see how many people would come together to celebrate peace,” representative for Blessings in a Backpack Alyssa Khan said.
Monday’s challenge was to give a compliment to at least three unfamiliar faces.
On “Purple for Peace” Tuesday, everyone was encouraged to wear purple, which is the international color of peace. The challenge involved thinking outside the box; students were to try something they’d never done before, like speaking to a new person or sitting at a different lunch table.
Throughout study halls, Peace Poetry Performances took place in the auditorium. Multicultural Club and Poetry Club treated students to poetic and musical performances by their fellow peers, promoting unity, love and peace. Among the performances were original raps, poems, short narratives, dances and songs
“[It] made me very happy [to see students] coming together at this moment to celebrate love despite all the negativity in the world,” senior Chelsey Chevalier said. “I think it’s important to show students we love and care about them and embrace different talents.”
Chevalier sang Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” with fellow senior Deniece Jones, in addition to performing with the chorus.
On Wednesday, there was no school due to the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Peace Week festivities resumed the following day.
For “Tie Dye Thursday,” everyone was asked to wear tie-dyed clothing or shirts with peace designs. Students in all grade levels were seen showing spirit by wearing attire with different splashed colors on them.
Students were challenged to lend a helping hand to anyone in need on this day. Opening a door, carrying someone else’s books or any other small gesture that could make a difference in a student’s day and promote kindness throughout the school were encouraged.
Friday was chosen to be “Flag Friday.” Everyone was given the chance to wear or display flags of their national heritage. Some students were seen wearing shirts with the colors of their respective flag(s), while others brought in actual flags to wrap around themselves to display their culture and background.
The challenge on Friday was to approach someone wearing a flag display and ask them about their culture and heritage.
Friday’s activity was the Peace Pole ceremony, located by the courtyard and walkway area in front of the main office. The Multicultural Club hosted the fourth annual CCHS Peace Pole Dedication at 1:30 p.m. during fourth period.
At the beginning of the event, the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) guards led the entrance and marched with the flags. Attendees then recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Participants in this ceremony followed behind the guards as they marched out, holding either white flowers and/or toy unicorns in honor of Ms. Hobin. Afterward, they split and formed two lines.
Fitzgerald was the main host of the function and the first to speak, thanking everyone for being there. Next, Principal Doll gave a small speech commending all the clubs who took part in Peace Week. She also thanked them for making the week such a success in promoting the themes of peace, love and unity through diversity at CCHS.
Senior Cayla Sullivan then presented a spoken word poem. Afterward, Fitzgerald spoke about what peace means to her and gave information on the Peace Pole. She stated that the pole that stands at CCHS is one of the 200,000 planted in 180 countries around the world as a symbol of great hope and healing.
Ninth grade English teacher Fallan Patterson gave a speech on Ms. Hobin and how her legacy can continue.
“To truly honor Ms. Hobin throughout the year, and honestly throughout your lives, would be to be kind to everyone you encounter because she really believed in being kind to all- as we never really know what others are going through,” Patterson said.
Following her speech, the CCHS choir sang “Remember Me” from the Disney Pixar movie “Coco.”
“I felt like it [the singing] was necessary to recognize having peace, especially in the world that we live in today,” sophomore and advanced choir member Zhia Smith said.
Thereafter, flowers and toy unicorns were laid beside the Peace Pole in honor of Ms. Hobin. There was a red spray-painted heart in the grass, and after everyone laid down the flowers and unicorns, they stood in the outline of the heart. A moment of silence for Ms. Hobin was held, and the choir then sang “Imagine” by John Lennon.
Peace Week is one of the largest spirit events of the year, and it was filled with numerous activities and events as usual. Through it all, its main focus was to promote unity within the student body and faculty at CCHS. The challenges, performances and projects that the Multicultural Club coordinated all contributed to the wealth of peace and love that circulate around Cooper City High School.
Photos by Kayla Florenco and Alexa Jaspan