Inspired by the Children’s International Peace Prize, children from Sunnyside Elementary’s special education class have developed their own award that will go to two students who demonstrate exemplary character.
Teacher Mary Krumpl said the “Our School Peace Award” was created after children studied the international award in class. In particular, one student said they were inspired by the story of a past recipient, Baruani Ndume, who founded a radio show in a Tanzanian refugee camp in which he and around 20 other child-reporters addressed the challenges and frustrations that children in refugee camps face.
Krumpl said after studying this and other stories, students drafted their own peace prize, including requirements for candidates and appropriate rewards, as part of the lesson. She said they liked the project so much they decided to create a real award within their school.
“The point was that the students came up with all the rules and the prize and our poster … my students were making all of this up,” Krumpl said. “I’m really proud of that because they put their hearts into it and they were really excited about sharing two people from the school that make it a better place.”
Krumpl said teachers at Sunnyside were each asked to nominate a student who demonstrated a litany of virtues, including humility, honesty and responsibility. One student who helped lead the project described the ideal recipient as “somebody that’s a role model to the younger and older” children.
Krumpl said the lesson not only addressed classroom goals of reading fluency and comprehension, but also helped students to hone valuable life skills such as teamwork and accountability. Some students had special jobs, including a manager to keep everyone on task and a researcher responsible for collecting nominations from teachers.
“We got to do something that we love to do — writing, reading and all the above and (were) just kind of thinking on their own,” one student said. “I think this is probably the best way to learn — having fun but still learning really well at the same time.”
Krumpl said two awardees were selected raffle-style — one winner from grades K through 2 and another from third through fourth grades. She said they received their award certificates and a lemon trophy — modeled after the lemon-themed special education room — Tuesday during a lunch party in their honor.
Krumpl said she has plans to bring the award back next year.
“This was kind of on the spot — we had this lesson and the next day, we decided to do it schoolwide for real so it happened very fast,” she said. “Next year we’ll know that it’s coming, and we can prepare a little bit more, and we can have the school be a little bit more involved and get a little more excited about it too.”
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.