"Light a Candle for Peace," a simple and eloquent plea for nonviolence, was heard around the globe all day Tuesday, starting in New Zealand. The children's song was sung continuously around the world for the entire day will finish in the Hawaiian Islands.
The Montessori effort is part of the United Nations International Day of Peace, observed each year on Sept. 21, a global call for cease-fire and nonviolence.
The school's playground was transformed into an outdoor theater, as the students filed in underneath a homemade dove of peace, decorated in bright peace symbols, and held deftly aloft by teacher Courtney Jenkins and a handful of students.
From toddlers to teenagers, the students sang, danced, recited poems and short essays; and played guitars, violins and drums, their energy radiating through the campus as the morning sun poked through the surrounding shade trees.
As they practiced their final notes, violinists Alana Davis and Isis Collier, were thoroughly caught up in the moment's energy. "It's so exciting to be a part of something heard all around the world," Davis said.
Collier agreed, "We're all doing this at different times, and it'll be really amazing to hear ourselves later."
Tuesday's performance will be on YouTube later Tuesday, organizers said.
Montessori Director Shournagh McWeeney reminded the students of their responsibility. "Each of you represent the power of peace. It starts with you," she said. "If it isn't within you, yourself, you cannot spread it to others."
Jenkins spoke of the school's dove. With a slight laugh, she said, "Though our dove looks a little like a duck, he is our peace symbol, one of many that will be flying today."
Reading from their essays, Gloria Zaker's 11th graders were passionate: "War leaves people dead, creates hatred, with lives lost, hearts broken, hurt and confused." "I hate the word war the most of any word; it is evil." "There is never a good war or a bad peace." "It's legal murder."
With equal passion, they wound up with: "Peace brings smiles," 'Love leaves the world smiling."
The students did not overlook the local violence and corruption. "If we are held hostage to this epidemic of corruption," one student summed up, "we will never have peace."
Eleventh-grader Nia Hazell proposed a challenge: "Peace.... Smile to replace a tear, fun to remove a gun, wonder to remove tragedy, love to replace turmoil; So together, we as Virgin Islanders can pass this test."
A group of the upper school students got together with the energy teenagers thrive on, jumping up in front of their classmates, teachers and parents. Waving their arms and stamping their feet they sang "Give Peace a Chance," a number of their own talents.
Zakers said a few words in closing. "I am inspired and amazed," she said. "There is room for the love of power to be replaced by the power of love. Thank you."
And, with the admonition, "Back to Class," the playground was transformed back to a playground, and with the dove held on high, the students returned to their studies.