Baker Prairie Middle School hosted guests and groups from several Oregon schools for the 10th Annual Harold Schnitzer Spirit of Unity Student Peace Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
The Wholistic Peace Institute, out of West Linn, coordinates the Peace Awards assemblies, where it hands out cash awards to school groups that dedicate themselves to promoting peace.
The Harold Schnitzer Spirit of Unity cash awards, up to $500, are given thanks to the generosity of Arlene Schnitzer.
Two Baker Prairie student groups won the award this year — the Student Peace Eagles Council and Builder's Club.
According to Baker Prairie Principal Jennifer Turner, both groups advocate for peace by working to decrease bullying and promoting positive culture in the school.
"I think for us that it's important for our students to see the impact that they can have both within the school and outside the school," Turner said, "and that really being peaceful starts with each of us. It starts individually, and then what we can do as a group within our school and what we can do outside of our school."
At the awards assembly, Baker Prairie welcomed guest speaker Rabbi Arik Ascherman, a human rights advocate for Jews and non-Jews.
Student leaders from each of the winning schools also gave speeches during the assembly.
"I think it's commendable that the Wholistic Peace Institute continued to want to have that mission—their goal of having peaceful schools," Turner said. "I think they see, both Nancy and Gary Spanovich, see that peace really begins with our youth, you know, that they are the future. If we can help them see that and bring speakers in that help ignite that and make them curious, that's one way."
Throughout this year, the Wholistic Peace Institute anticipates reaching more than 3,500 educators, students and community members through their assemblies and a banquet dinner.