BREWER, Maine — Students will “plant” brightly colored pinwheels adorned with messages of peace today as part of an art installation project to support the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.
“It’s a worldwide public school art celebration for International Peace Day,” Brewer art teacher Randy Menninghaus said Monday.
Students in Brewer, Bangor, Hermon, Lincoln, Canaan and Swan’s Island are planting their pinwheels, which are decorated on one side and have messages from students about their feelings on peace on the other side.
“This is not anti-war. It’s a celebration of nonviolence,” Menninghaus said, adding that some students simply listed the names of their friends.
Messages also can be about tolerance, cooperation, harmony or unity, she said.
Hundreds of pinwheels should be planted today near Brewer High School, around Fruit Street School and Bangor High School, Canaan Elementary School, Ella Burr Elementary School in Lincoln, Hermon Elementary School, Swan’s Island School and others in Maine, according to the project’s website, pinwheelsforpeace.com.
“It usually takes two to three days in class” to build the pinwheels, Menninghaus said Monday. “Today was the day we’re taking the sticks and putting in pins to make sure they spin.”
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations’ General Assembly to coincide with its opening session every September. In 2001, Sept. 21 was established as the annual celebration date.
Two art teachers from Coconut Creek, Fla., started the project in December 2001 as a way for students to express their feelings about what is going on in the world and in their lives.
The Pinwheels for Peace project is open to everyone, not just students. Anyone interested in making a pinwheel can download directions from the project’s website.
In general, pinwheels are made from folded paper, a plastic straw or wooden dowel and a sewing pin to hold it together. In many countries, the pinwheels are put up at a certain time, but in Brewer the students take an active role, Menninghaus said.
“Our kids like to plant theirs, so starting at 8 o’clock [today],” the pinwheels will begin to brighten Parkway South in front of the high school, she said. “It’s just great.”
Brewer’s pinwheels will remain up until around 7:30 p.m.