A Successful Peace March at 186th Street School: Wise Owls Shout, “Happy Birthday Dr. King… Let Peace Soar!”

Below is an account of the most recent annual Peace March held by 186th St School in LA, written by school principal Marcia Reed:

Two students participate in annual MLK Day Peace March

Our 12th Annual Peace March, "Stepping Out for Peace," was held on Friday, January 13, 2017, and it was a memorable event for the Wise Owl Nation!  After a full week of rain, the sunshine created a day filled with the magic of excited students, caring teachers, supportive parents, wonderful community leaders, and fabulous law enforcement officers to highlight our theme of peace.  This year the Peace March was held to celebrate peace in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday; to kick off our annual Peace First Community Service Learning Projects which go hand in hand with President Obama’s charge to promote a spirit of service; to honor local heroes who have served and are serving our country; and to release 20 doves to symbolize our commitment to peace.   The students and staff were very proud to share their pledge and commitment of working together to make the world a better place by creating peacemakers and not peace breakers.

Peace March performance of drummers

A sea of smiling students and staff members wearing Peace First t-shirts, beautiful peace signs, and loving parent and community ambassadors adorned the assembly area.  The march opened with the inspiring recording of the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. King.  Srgt. Sandoval and the Jr. ROTC from Gardena High School led the flag salute followed by Maree Reed singing an inspirational rendition of the national anthem. Next, Mrs. Reed, the Principal, and the students welcomed all of the parents and community leaders with the 186th School Cheer.  Then several guests encouraged our students with their remarks and presence to promote peace including Director Lee Lee Chou (LD South Superintendent), Al Smith (Toyota Financial Services Vice President), Senior Lead Officer Frank Lopez (LAPD Harbor Division), and Officer Reagle-Breault (LAUSD School Police).  The children shared the Six Pillars of Character and their Peace First Chant that asked everyone to “work together in peace, walk together in peace, love one another, and live together in peace!”  Next Aimee Yamada played a taiko drum solo while the Peace Ambassadors presented American flags to all of our military heroes and law enforcement officers.  Then the highlight for many of our children began when our heroes gathered around a basket filled with 20 white doves and Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard from the U.S. Navy released the doves.  The audience shouted, “Happy Birthday Dr. King…Let Peace Soar!” and the doves soared to the sky. The children waived good-bye to the doves as the music echoed, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!”  The Gardena High Jr. ROTC and the Peace Ambassadors led the March.   Next the children walked the perimeter of the school with their beautiful peace signs, singing their melodious peace chants, and renewing their commitment to live peaceably with all people.  As the children walked by the Toyota Technical Center, the engineers and staff waived to encourage the students to be the best they can possibly be.  Every student was congratulated with a high five for their commitment to live in peace by the district leaders, community friends, law enforcement officers, military heroes, and parents.  The spirit of the day was captured in the eyes of the children as they sparkled with enthusiasm for peace.

Young student wears "I am a peacemaker" shirt

The Peace March empowers the school community to take a stand as activists, advocates, and ambassadors for peace.  We gave our students an active learning experience to compare and contrast our school neighborhood with the neighborhoods in which they live.  Our hope is that this activity posed questions and developed ideas that will spark our children to commit to doing something different to ensure peace in their communities.  The day was a wonderful expression of the school and community coming together to celebrate peace.

Students hold signs expressing their excitement to join the peace march

The Peace March was covered by Channel 7 ABC Eyewitness news.  LAUSD School Police and the Los Angeles Police Department – Harbor Division ensured the safety of the march.

Want to organize your own peace march? We can help! Start a project here.