Pinwheels spin for peace at Western Tech in Catonsville

Visitors and students at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science were greeted by an unusual sight at the county magnet high school on Kenwood Avenue Wednesday morning.

Nine students spent their first period arranging several hundred handmade pinwheels in the shape of a peace sign at the school's entrance to celebrate the International Day of Peace Sept. 21.

The pinwheels were made by students of all grade levels at the school.

Many of the pinwheels had drawings of hearts, peace signs and smiley faces. Others wrote positive words on the pedals.

On one was the message, "Let's believe if we all stand together, we're a force that can shake the world."

Tim Hayman was among the nine who worked together under the overcast sky.

"It promotes peace. People ride down the street and see all the pinwheels out and it gets them to think about it," said Hayman, a senior from Arbutus. "Not just that people took the time to build every single (pinwheel), but the time it took us to put it out."

Whether it was stopping to take a close look at each pinwheel's design or taking a step back to see the arrangement of pinwheels, Hayman said the spirit of the day was evident.

The International Day of Peace was created by the United Nations in 1981.

Each year on Sept. 21 the day encourages individuals, organizations and nations around the world to perform practical acts of peace, the International Day of Peace website said.

The idea to plant pinwheels began in Florida in 2005 as an apolitical way for students to express their feelings, according to the Baltimore County Public Schools.

Since then, more than 1.2 million pinwheels have spun in 3,000 locations around the world.

Last week's event was a first for Western Tech.

Some of the seniors setting up the pinwheels lamented that the project hadn't come to the school earlier.

"It's something new that we've never done before," said Western Tech senior Jacob Adcock, an Arbutus resident. "It's nice to support the whole peace thing that we're going for.

"It was just fun to see how the people in the school brought in pinwheels to support it."

Tamara Schlossenberg, a senior from Reisterstown, said this type of project was right up her alley.

"I'm into the whole peace gig and everything. My friends call me hippie," said Schlossenberg, who wore a shirt featuring three peace signs. "I wish Western had been doing it more years. This is the first year that Western is doing it and it's my last year."

At least one of the seniors at Western Tech thinks it should expand.

"I believe that Peace Day should be done by all schools," said Princess Joseph, who plans to attend University of Maryland next year.

"I hope (the students) can realize what Peace Day is all about. It's about spreading peace throughout the world," she said. "I would like to start this in college somehow."

Jesse Dortzbach, the school's first-year chairman of visual and performing arts, said he was happy to see so many of the school's students take part..

"Nobody likes to live in fear and nobody likes to live in a community where they feel not respected," he said.

"A lot of times we don't realize how easy it is to do something small that has a big impact," he said. ""The idea is basically to get as many kids involved as possible."

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