Early Childhood

Oak Grove Students Celebrate Peace Week

Vertically grouped into their “Lizard Groups,” students from 1st through 12th grade donned their hand-dyed tees and headed for the Pavilion on Monday, October 21st, to celebrate International Peace Day. Early Childhood students, including Kindergarten, tie-dyed special multi-colored tees to indicate that they were on EVERYBODY’s team! The celebration began with the whole school coming together, in silence, and considering how observing a moment of silence was like planting a seed of peace. Then we sang peace songs led by Adrienne and Rory, with instrumental accompaniment provided by high school students. Throughout the morning, Lizard Groups moved from station to station enjoying various activities around the theme of peace — from making peace jewelry to walking silently through a labyrinth — and ending at the “peace tree” where students had hung their ribbons of peace (you can still see these if you visit the garden). We ended our morning as we had begun — in silence — inviting each other to keep planting those seeds of peace…


During Peace Week, kids in the Early Child hood program explored what’s the same and what’s different among classmates — their eye color and shape, their feet and hands, their skin color and hair texture, their size and abilities. “My eyes are black.” “Mine are kind of brownish-blackish.” “I can climb really tall trees.” “Me, too, and I can build a line of paperclips as long as me!” As children group and re-group themselves with others, they begin to appreciate differences as well as the bonds they share. Empathy grows, and we begin to build a peaceful community in the classroom. When asked, “What makes you feel peaceful?” one preschooler commented: “I feel peaceful whenever I’m alone and everything’s quiet. Just the sound of the wind.”


During Peace Week, students in grades 1–3 were steeped in peace curriculum activities. First grade teacher Alanna told the story of the great peace maker Hiawatha and how he helped bring peace to the Native Indian nations. Third grade teacher Alice read a Chumash creation myth and had students make gifts for the world using clay. Second grade teacher Carole taught about I-Messages and reminded students that it is one of the strategies to use from the Wheel of Choice. The Wheel of Choice is used by all three grades to help students find solutions to their conflicts. Alanna also taught students how to make and use Peace Bridges. Now we have Peace Bridges available to use in the classrooms, playground and at the Peace Table on the first and second grade deck.


During Peace Week, 4th through 6th grade students headed up to the Ojai Foundation for a rich experience of camping, participating in Council, and enjoying trust games where we learned about ourselves and others. Showing tremendous resilience by responding to an unbelievable heat wave, students were propelled down to Bates beach with the OF presenters for an all-day beach experience. Students created mythological creatures with their very own unique environments made out of sand and seaweed and other beach materials. They happily returned home on Thursday, grateful for cool showers! Friday wrapped up our week with writing reflections, picture sharing and an overall sense of gratitude for our friends, school and community.


Following the all-school Peace Day ac tivity, the secondary students and staff got on a big yellow bus for a week of beach camping at El Capitan State Beach. With a focus on building connections at the secondary level, students in grades 7­–12 engaged in many activities together throughout the week.

In addition to prepping and cooking dinner, cleaning up after meals and starting the evening’s fire, the students chose from a variety of options offered by the staff each afternoon. Teachers led groups in kayaking (a few lucky students found themselves amongst a dolphin pod!), surfing, hiking, henna body-painting, geo-caching, reading quietly in the campsite, and making music on the beach. Each evening groups of students presented fireside performances which ranged from skits to charades and an open mic night. The week was an amazing time for the students and ended with a big “giving back” by doing an all-campground cleanup. Fun!