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Manhattan Beach, Compton Schools to Celebrate International Peace Day

Sep 20, 2020 11:05AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Peace poles - Image via and

A Manhattan Beach elementary school will mark International Peace Day on Monday, September 21, in a unique partnership with a Compton elementary school.

Together, Pennekamp Elementary School and Emerson Elementary in Compton will celebrate the United Nations’ Day of Peace 2020 and its theme - “Shaping Peace Together."

The event will be broadcast from 11:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. on Zoom for students, and it will be live-streamed on YouTube for all who wish to watch.

To register for the event, visit the International Peace Day Partnership's Eventbrite page.

Event Will Focus on 'Unification Through Education'

The event is being organized by a local organization known as Stand4Peace. Stand4Peace is guiding the students in creating a personalized peace action plan, in which they declare what peace means to them and what they will commit to do to encourage peace within their community, family and themselves.

With the local theme, “Unification through Education,” the event will feature “peace poles” given to both schools that symbolize peace, hope, and an opportunity to learn from a neighboring community.

The peace poles, which began as a tradition after WWII in Japan, have four sides that read:
  • May Peace Prevail in our Hearts
  • May Peace Prevail in our Schools
  • May Peace Prevail in our Communities
  • May Peace Prevail on Earth

At noon, participants will observe the virtual global U. N. "Peace Wave" that will be happening at noon in every time zone on September 21.

The schools will also announce the creation of a proposed volunteer pen pal program between students.

Long-Standing Relationship with Compton

Stand4Peace is led by Manhattan Beach resident Karen Wooldridge along with Pennekamp Elementary educator Donna Barney Nicholson. Together, they are advocates for an education curriculum of peace-building skills and non-violent communication.

Wooldridge and Nicholson were inspired by a "global peace course" they took, led by Scilla Elworthy and Sheva Carr. They were the coordinators of last year's "Stand in the Sand" beach event in honor of International Peace Day. They formally organized as Stand4Peace this summer so that they could apply for grants to fund their efforts.

The partnership with Compton schools goes back almost ten years, said Wooldridge.

"This partnership with Compton Unified stems from a long-time relationship with Manhattan Beach parent Court Crandall and Compton District school board member Satra Zurita, [from] when Court created the documentary Free Throw, highlighting the high school students of Compton High School in 2011. Many Manhattan Beach families supported Court’s project including myself," said Wooldridge.

For this year's event, they wanted to come up with a way to continue that partnership even if it had to be a virtual event, said Wooldridge. "Our challenge was to decide how to commemorate the day virtually. Donna and I presented the idea to Pennekamp Principal Karina Gerger and MBUSD Superintendent Michael Matthews. With support, we asked Court if he would reach out to Satra Zurita and Compton Superintendent Darin Brawley. Everyone welcomed the partnership and we created our local theme for the day, 'Unification through Education.'"

Wooldridge continued, "The response on both side has been incredible. We believe International Peace Day will be the beginning of partnership that will allow the students to learn and grow from each other. This relationship will be virtual for now but our hope is to meet in person when appropriate. We are working with a few online school “pen pal” programs to create a custom program for the two districts to connect with online."

Stand4Peace received funding from a private investor that commits funds for "community change makers." Those funds allowed them to purchase the peace poles, advertise, purchase Peace Day bracelets for the two host schools, create social media awareness, and pay for the live broadcasting on YouTube from two locations.

They are looking to raise approximately $9,000 to purchase and install peace poles at the additional 36 schools in both school districts. Anyone who is interested in contributing should email Wooldridge at [email protected]

"We are here to be a resource to educate and bring public awareness to issues related to peace," said Wooldridge. "We believe that we can assist those in education, the community, local government and business to inspire and empower our youth to start being the future peace builders now as well as the adults in local communities.. We can all learn and be students of peace."

The full list of program contributors and partners for the event include:

  • Dr. Darin Brawley - Superintendent, CUSD
  • Dr. Michael Matthews - Superintendent, MBUSD
  • Dr. Jennifer Moon - Dir of Education Services, CUSD
  • Lakisha Moore - Principal, Emerson Elementary School-Compton
  • Dr. Karina Gerger - Principal, Pennekamp Elementary School-Manhattan Beach
  • Erin Toppenberg - Consultant; Former representative to the United Nations for NGO Pathways to Peace
  • Donna Barney Nicholson - 1st Grade Teacher, Pennekamp Elementary School and Co-Founder of STAND4PEACE
  • Karen Wooldridge - Co-Founder of STAND4PEACE
  • Court Crandall - writer, speaker, advertising executive, director of Free Throw documentary, MB parent, and long-time mentor to students of CUSD that helped create the partnership.
  • Mark Burrell, CEO – CELEBYOU Talent Challenge App (The app is running a concurrent contest for people to submit a video or photo to the app to show how they are working to shape peace together).

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