By: Sandy Huber, Principal
July 2020

Inspirational Messages of Peace with A Twist! was celebrated on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Typically, this would have been a large celebration held on the Peace Plaza at the University Park World Peace Rose Garden, recognizing the 13 students from Pittman Charter School and Hamilton School for their winning Inspirational Messages of Peace. However, due to Coronavirus related restrictions, this year’s celebration had to take a new form. Since the event in the garden, we are facing the advent of the unrest following the death of George Floyd. Sandy Huber, Director of the Inspirational Messages of Peace Program feels that we individually have the added burden of positioning ourselves to help contribute to peace. Sandy remarked that “listening to our children is one important step we can take to learn their goals surrounding peace and their plans for creating a more peaceful world.” Additionally, “talking about peace in our homes and schools is critical for our society.” Sandy observes that this program has never been more important to Stockton and our global community.

Now in its 6th year of participating in the Inspirational Messages of Peace Program with the International World Peace Rose Gardens (IWPRG), the University Park World Peace Rose Garden is proud of the program and how it serves children in the community of Stockton. The program is making a tremendous impact on young minds. Students are encouraged to write messages of peace in an effort to cultivate their own “qualities of peace”. Developed by IWPRG, there are 60 qualities of peace including empathy, sharing, gratitude, helpfulness, kindness, and many other important human qualities. As teachers and schools add the International Messages of Peace Program to their yearly curriculum, students are taking on perspectives that will shape their lives forever.

Although a large celebratory gathering was not able to be held this year, the Inspirational Messages of Peace contest winners were celebrated in a new way. Together, Sandy Huber and the International Messages of Peace co-founders, TJ and Sylvia Villalobos gathered (with proper social distance) for a moment time of meditation, prayer, singing, and a reading of each of the 13 winning messages. For those involved in planning and coordinating the contest as well as selecting the winners, it was extremely important that each Message of Peace was read aloud and given a proper moment of acknowledgment.

All of the student’s messages matter – to the students, the readers, and the world.

Some of this year’s winning messages were filled with sentiments well-suited to our current Coronavirus pandemic situation and civil unrest and community pain. Fourth-grader, Arane, considers how great it would be and how peaceful it would feel to be able to sit with one another again, gathering in love and joy. Jaila, an 8th-grade student, recognizes the importance of forgiveness, something many world citizens must now learn and practice to navigate our current situation. World peace is something we should all be working for and it begins with individuals, writes 7th grader Andrea.

Globally, all are being touched by this pandemic and pain. Children all over the world are separated from each other in ways that they’ve never experienced and each of us, especially our children are facing challenges internally and externally. Writing messages of peace can bring peace and instructive value to each student participating in the program. The program also allows for discussion about matters related to peace and learning for teachers, classmates, and families. The Celebration with a Twist allowed for this exchange, though the event was small in stature, it carried a tremendous impact that will continue as the Grupe Huber team collaborates to work in getting video content of the Celebration delivered to the schools.

The Celebration with a Twist was slated to last about an hour but ended up lasting nearly three. Sandy described the afternoon as one might remember a most special day. “It was an afternoon that you wished would last forever because you knew how special it was,” Huber remarked. Though there is hope that this Pandemic and society pain will find healing, that April afternoon has become a memory to treasure. By lingering in song, prayer, meditation, reading of the messages, and quietly gathering in the bold fragrance of the first bloom in the garden, the day created an embrace around each student’s message that was so special it couldn’t be rushed.