PeaceJam Jr. At Work at Woods Lake
New Club Emphasizes Service and Community
The PeaceJam Jr. service learning club at Woods Lake Elementary: A Magnet School for the Arts was designed for fourth and fifth graders.
But club activities, such as renovating the school courtyard with new plants and marching in the Memorial Day parade, were so popular, the club expanded to include all of the younger students who wanted to join in the fun of making Woods Lake a better place.
This year more than 80 students have joined the club, which started with 30 children last year.
Teacher Shannon Parlato said she was inspired to start the club by fellow teacher Sveri Stromstra May, the longtime advisor for the Loy Norrix PeaceJam, and her neighbor Todd Bannon, who is program director for the Great Lakes PeaceJam, which is located at Western Michigan University.
“I loved that the program promotes positive behavior through service learning,” Parlato said. “I originally thought I may have 10 kids show up — and was shocked that it has grown to 80 kids. The PeaceJam kids feel a sense of pride at being leaders in our school. We are learning to help each other and to take care of our school community.”
This year she is being assisted by teacher Patricia Bolton and parent volunteer Jan Sneddon.
PeaceJam is designed for students kindergarten through college age. Members study the lives of Nobel Peace Prize winners and learn how to be active, engaged citizens. The Loy Norrix PeaceJam has been mentoring the Woods Lake group and assisting the younger students with their events.
Parlato said the group is still discussing projects for this school year, but they are talking about continuing their work on the PeaceJam garden at Woods Lake, working with veterans in the Memorial Day parade, participating in a community activity for the holidays, and attending the PeaceJam celebration at WMU in April, at which a Nobel Peace Prize winner will speak. The group will walk in the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade with the Loy Norrix PeaceJam club to collect donations for the Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes food bank.