Students share their visions of peace
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Students share their visions of peace

The theme was peace. The way to express it was left up to the students of Club Ed, in the Cliffside Park school district. They were told they could write a poem, create a drawing, present a photograph, or use any other kind of art form. Some chose to draw; others to write. Some did both.

From April 30 to May 13, 3’5 students from grades one to eight displayed 1’0 works at the Cliffside Park Public Library, celebrating the ‘0th anniversary of Global Youth Service Day.

The event, Speak Out for Peace, was organized by Youth Service America and the Global Youth Action Network, in cooperation with the Teaneck-based Jewish Family Service of Bergen County and New Jersey After 3.

Four of the 1’0 drawings are currently on exhibit at the Mark Gallery in Englewood, handpicked by the owner, Arielle Mark.

Maurice Frumkin, director of school-based services at JFS, said the organization has operated Club Ed, the after-school program at the Cliffside Park public schools, for several years.


Four drawings about peace were created by students from the Cliffside Park school district. Photo by Daniel Santacruz

The group offers activities such as photography, computer technology, and arts and crafts.

Also participating in the program is New Jersey After 3, Frumkin added, a private, non-profit organization that provides after-school activities for school-age children in the state. The group works in partnership with AmeriCorps, a national network of more than 3,000 non-profits, public agencies, and community organizations.

Two AmeriCorps members based at JFS helped coordinate the art exhibit, Frumkin said.

In one of the works exhibited at the gallery, a watercolor, Moises Argueta, a fifth-grade student from School 4, drew a lighthouse and a boat, adding a poem at the bottom that extols peace. "When you open the door for peace, then peace welcome (sic) to your lives. Let the peace prevail in our wonderful world."

Seray Kurtis, a fourth-grader from the same school, drew a green Statue of Liberty from the chest up and titled her work "Peace and Justice for All." In a poem alongside it, she wrote that she wishes to go to a far land where "I shall paint a great portrait of what the world should be. A place without wars. And within human peace."

And what’s peace for her? Said the student, it’s a place where "everybody is free and there is no judgment and your ideas are free."

Speaking of freedom, she wrote, "Carry me out into the ocean where my drifting thoughts flow free."

"I was thinking of the ocean and peace and I started putting them together," she explained. She said she knows "there is a war in Iraq," adding that she learned about World War I and World War II in history class.

Her mother, Ayfer, said Seray is "very creative" and likes to write.

The five authors of "Peace on Earth," all from School 4, painted a huge globe and superimposed on it eight doves and pictures of former President Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Mark, the gallery owner, said the criteria used to pick the four drawings were composition, creativity, and the method used to convey the message.

"I also took into account the age of the child," she added, because the standards for each age group are different.

The drawings will be on display until July 1.

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