On the day that thousands of Americans gathered to mourn the losses of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Mills College Children’s school honored the dead by creating new life.
In a tree planting ceremony, Planting Peace, almost 140 kids and 30 staff, faculty and parents gathered on the school’s grass to plant seeds for a new garden last Wednesday morning.
Teachers felt that the school needed to be brought together to reflect on the anniversary, said Suzanne DiLillo, director of administration.
“As adults we wanted to acknowledge that [the events of Sept 11] had taken place by allowing the children to make a positive contribution to peace and beauty on their campus,”
Each class, ranging from three-month-olds to 10-year-olds received a different kind of bulb to plant-Daffodils and Narcissus to Irises and Crocuses, according to DiLillo.
As each class took turns planting seeds, others volunteered to create a singing circle, leading the larger group in four songs.
Led by Heather Gray, the afternoon preschool head teacher, the children sang “each of us is a flower growing in life’s garden” and like flowers “we need the sun and the rain.”
“This is one of the only times during the year when all students get to come together to build community,” said Judy Van Hoorn, director of education and research.
While bulbs were planted, fourth and fifth-graders were responsible for making signs to guard the garden.
Using class norms they’d come up with at the beginning of the school year, students recognized the importance of being respectful in everyday life.
A particular student had chosen to use the color yellow in her sign, which symbolizes remembrance, friendship, and love, said Gray.