Around 160 seventh Hedrick Middle School students form a peace sign on their football field Friday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Making a stand

Cars honked and passers-by pointed and waved as Hedrick Middle School students, mostly wearing white, formed a giant peace sign on the school athletic field along Jackson Street in honor of International Day of Peace.

The demonstration marked the end of a week focused on peace, world issues and pledges students made to make their own lives more peaceful. Coordinated by teacher Mary Noble for the second year, the Hedrick event joins others worldwide in honoring an effort by British filmmaker Jeremy Gilley that began in 1999 to encourage acts of peace every Sept. 21.

The pledges Hedrick students made ranged from not yelling at younger siblings to helping friends resolve conflict and being friendlier to kids they don't usually talk to.

Noble, whose birthday falls on Peace Day, has taught around the world, spending two years in the Peace Corps in West Africa and teaching for much of the past decade in Cairo, Egypt, and Thailand.

When she moved to Southern Oregon two years ago, Noble wanted to expose students to the Peace Day concept.

Last year's Peace Day found students folding 1,000 cranes, a gesture of friendship for the school Sparrow, a young boy with heart problems.

Seventh-graders Vicente Borja and Michael-Michelle Bunnell were eager to talk about their own pledge to help promote peace at home and at school.

Vicente, donning a white shirt and batman earrings, said he learned a lot from watching the documentary called "Peace One Day."

"We all have to help support Jeremy Gilley's hard work and dedication to always try to do good things for the whole world," he said.

"My goal was to try not to use the word hate. We learned that everyone doing some small thing makes a difference."

Michael-Michelle said the giant peace sign was symbolic of students' pledge to "set a good example for others."

"We were doing this big sign to show people that peace can happen one day if we all make a change in our own lives and stop all the dominance and conflict going on," she said.

"We have to pledge to help others resolve conflicts and help with Peace Day so more people will try to change their lives."

Student Savanna Goffic, 12, said she would "try not to take words so personally," while 12-year-old Cody Kroeker said he hoped the students' response to Peace Day would show "everyone where we live that there really can be a cease-fire day where we think about peace."

Twelve-year-old Madisen Cavanagh, whose personal pledge was to help people "get back up when they're down," hoped Peace Day in the Rogue Valley would grow each year.

"I think it's a great thing that Jeremy Gilley tried to do to help have peace for the world because every day there are people dying and fighting," she said.

"We want people to know what we're doing because the more people who hear about it, maybe next year will help support peace day, too."

Noble said the students' photo would be posted on the Peace One Day website,

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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