On Thursday, September 21, 2017, the Peoria Rotary Club hosted a ceremony, led by PDG Chuck Fitzgerald, in recognition of the International Day of Peace. The club's "Peoria Peace Initiative" partners with the Peoria Unified School District and the City of Peoria to encourage conversations and actions in the pursuit of peace in our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools, our city, and around the world. A press release was distributed by the school district to announce the ceremony (see photo).
This year's ceremony at Centennial High School's "Peace Space" saw attendees signup as "Champions of Peace" and featured our very own Rotary Peace Scholar Christopher Zambakari as a keynote speaker. The ceremony also featured the recognition of Officer David Fernandez as the Peoria Rotary Club's inaugural "Peacemaker of the Year" award recipient (see photo). Officer Fernandez, the School Resource Officer at Centennial High School, finds himself in the midst of conflict every day and manages to successfully help bring resolution and reconciliation to the school and to those he serves.
Additionally, City of Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat proclaimed the day as "Rotary Peace Day" in Peoria. The proclamation speaks about Rotary's commitment to peace and conflict resolution, and the role our young people have in peacemaking today and into the future (see photo). This was eloquently reaffirmed during the ceremony by Lauren Lucas, the President of Centennial High School's Interact Club.
Finally, Peoria Unified School District administrators announced the expansion of the Peoria Peace Initiative into five new schools which will include on-campus peace spaces (benches, peace poles, etc.) as well as peer-to-peer mediation and conflict resolution curriculum. More information about this expansion will be available at the upcoming USA/Mexico Grants and Friendship Exchange in late October.
To learn more about the Peoria Peace Initiative, and to find peace resources for students, visit www.peoriapeaceinitiative.org.