Promoting Peace: Muirlands students decorate special tree

Hoping to promote peace in the New Year, the Bully Busters Club at Muirlands Middle School created a “peace tree,” and encouraged classmates to place notes bearing their wishes for peace on it, as 2014 drew to a close.

“We wanted people to really express what they are hoping for and what peace means to them,” said project coordinator Caroline Garay. “I thought other kids would want to express their thoughts for peace — I know I did.”

The tree went up Dec. 15 at Muirlands, and students quickly filled the tree with their hopes.

Citing the recent civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and in the Middle East, Bully Busters Club member Sam Osman said, “I think the tree is a great way for kids to express positive messages, (in light of) all the not-so-great things going on in the world. It’s a nice change.”

Charli Davey, another club member, said it was important to her that the voices of her peers be heard. “I wanted to be part of this because kids want to be a part of things (like the global dialogue on peace), but adults don’t always take us seriously,” she said. “We wanted to give other kids a chance to express their feelings and what they want so people can see that kids care.”

The tree — and the abundance of notes that adorn it — seems to prove it.

Some signed their names, while others left anonymous messages. The following are some examples of students’ peace messages:

■ Peace Please.

■ I wish we could find a cure for Ebola and end the war in Afghanistan.

■ I wish for world peace and to have all the world’s problems be resolved.

■ Peace Forever.

■ I wish for peace in our community and peace between countries.

■ I wish that girls in the Middle East could go to school.

■ I wish for all the homeless people to have a home to be happy.

■ I wish for people to be nicer.

■ I know how to end violence: spread love all around.

■ I wish the world was bigger.

■ I wish people would stop fighting.

Garay said she was inspired to bring the project home after seeing something similar overseas. “Last year while traveling in Istanbul, I came across a white tree on a sidewalk in Taksim Square, at a site where some public protests had taken place,” she said. “There were wishes of peace attached to the branches of the tree. After seeing the tree I thought it would be a great idea to bring this symbol to my school where kids could write wishes of peace onto the tree.”

After four days on the Muirlands campus, the tree was moved to the entrance of Starbucks Coffee at 5604 La Jolla Blvd.

“I like that it got moved here so not only could people see what we wrote, but they could write a message and add to it,” said Bully Busters Club member Daisy Hathaway.

Under the tree was a basket with pieces of paper and wire ties so passersby could clip their message for peace to the tree.