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Ten area schools receive recognition from Schnitzer CARE foundation

Students representing middle and high schools from around the area flocked to Athey Creek Middle School Oct. 9 as students there once again hosted the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE foundation Spirit of Unity Awards.

Attending this year’s Student Peace and Leadership Summit as an honored guest was Silvia Kofler, a European Union diplomat and head of the EU’s press and public diplomacy.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - European Union diplomat Silvia Kofler addresses the students assembled at Athey Creek Middle School Oct. 9.Kofler’s visit was co-sponsored by the Portland-based Wholistic Peace Institute’s Nobel Peace Laureate Program.

Speaking about the importance of peace education, Kofler addressed students from West Linn’s Athey Creek and Rosemont Ridge middle schools as well as high school delegations from St. Mary’s Academy, David Douglas, Pleasant Hill, Madison, Cascade Heights, LaSalle and Lincoln. Students from Leslie Middle School and Concordia University College of Education also attended. Each of those schools took home a Spirit of Unity award.

“It’s neat to hear what all the schools are doing,” Athey parent Lori Dierckes said. “It’s neat that they’re targeting all ages from the grade school to the high school, just for our kids to be exposed to it.”

This was the second year in a row that Athey Creek has hosted the ceremony under the leadership of Principal Joel Sebastian. Working with teacher advisers, students work to coordinate the event.

One of those students, Kassie Thierauf, served as master of ceremonies. An eighth-grader, she is a member of Athey Creek’s student leadership team Natural Helpers, where she serves on the peace committee.

“I think it’s good,” she said of the event and its message. “If you just get the knowledge out there, people will remember it and come back to it.”

Kofler said she enjoyed the time she had spent at Athey Creek and appreciated her young audience, calling it the highlight of her trip to Oregon.

“I normally speak to businesspeople,” she said. “To speak to students is so refreshing. It’s so important. They are our future generations.”

Kofler’s presentation was entitled “The Importance of Peace Education,” and she considered that message particularly important for her young audience to hear.

“Even if they take nothing away except that one person can speak several languages, can travel, that’s enough,” she said.

Gary Spanovich, founder and director of the Wholistic Peace Institute, said the institute has been sponsoring the event for the past 13 years.

“All we want is for a school to host this,” he said. “Athey Creek Middle School has a great principal. I’m grateful for his interest in this.”

Kate Hoots can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 112. Follow her on Twitter, @CommuniKater.

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