United States 7 March: San Diego, CA - Chula Vista, CA

Creative expressions of peace in Chula Vista

Jessica lead the team as we ran into Finney Elementary School where cheering students lined the hallways.

Our star videographer from Mongolia, Sarankhuu, captured all of the action.

Ms. Eden Steele, Founder and Executive Director Emeritus of Interactions for Peace, got the ceremony started by inviting each person to say out loud what peace means to them. She said "if there is one thing I know, it is that peace begins with me and peace begins with you."

The school music teacher, Crystal Pridmore, lead the students in singing several songs about peace, including the World Harmony Run song!

The instrumental accompaniment to the song "Peace, Love and Joy Be With You Always" included these wooden xylophones.

The students displayed excellent geography skills in guessing and then showing their fellow students where each team member comes from on our map. Dhavala, from Scotland, helped the student to find the U.K. on the map.

Vanessa Gutierrez, in sixth grade was selected to receive the Torch-Bearer Award. Vanessa was nominated by her classmates as she exudes the meaning of the quote "Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns." She was described as "Being kind, being safe and being responsible. Her compassionate heart speaks volumes as she contributes her time to Peace Patrol in helping to resolve conflicts in her school community."

Sandra Scheller received the Torch Bearer award on behalf of her remarkable mother, Ruth Sax who passed away last year at the age of 90. Ruth was a holocaust survivor and spent her life educating young people about her experiences. She touched and inspired countless individuals throughout her life as she shared her story of survival. She was known as a "superhero without a cape."

The second student to receive the Torch-Bearer Award was Eduardo Emiliano Rodriguez. Eduardo was introduced as having " a calm, empathetic and collegial character. He always greets his friends and the staff and teachers with a smile and a phrase whether it is a "Hello," "Good Morning," or "Have a nice day!" His positive outlook on learning and overall life is contagious and leaves an emptiness when he isn't at school."

Ms. Tina, a popular teacher among Finney Elementary Students, was selected to receive the Torch-Bearer Award. Here her students are holding cards where they wrote all of their favourite things about her. One student wrote," I love Ms. Tina because she is gorgeous and she always knows what she is doing."

Principal Dr. Beverly Prange shared in the joy!

We often see positive messages on the t-shirts of the students!

The students made incredible peace themed artwork that decorated the school yard.

Our next stop was John J. Montgomery Elementary school in Chula Vista, where several students joined us to carry the torch into the ceremony.

The Televisa station came out to report on the events!

Monica Ruiz, the school Principal welcomed the Peace Torch to her school.

The school had events all week leading up to the Peace Run visit: Mindfulness Monday, Thoughtful Tuesday and Work Together Wednesday.

Daisy Estrada, in fourth grade, was thrilled to be chosen as the student recipient of the Torch Bearer Award. Principal Monica Ruiz said of Daisy; "Inside and outside of the classroom she is respectful, responsible and everything she does, she does with love."

CVESD Board President Laurie Humphry kindly came to present the Torch-Bearer Award recipients with their medals.

School Counselor Mrs. Torres received the Torch-Bearer award for being "a symbol of peace in all that she does." She clearly plays a crucial role in keeping the students happy and peaceful.

Mr. Keehmer, the school music teacher was an exceptionally popular choice as the final Torch-Bearer Award recipient. His enthusiasm was clear to see as he conducted the students in several performances that they had prepared for the ceremony.

The Montgomery Band played a lively rendition of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".

The sixth grade students performed a skit about creating a peaceful school community with no bullying.

The fifth grade students entertained us all with a drumming performance.

Mikel Molina gave an articulate speech about how connecting to the community can create harmony. Some of his ideas included buying locally and attending important meetings.

He said, "teachers play a really important role at school, they are champions, they're stars!"

After meeting so many amazing teachers over the past few days in the San Diego and Chula Vista area, we could not agree more.

Principal Monica Ruiz received the Peace Run certificate of appreciation, we are so grateful for all of the work she put into making this event happen.

The students all got a chance to hold the Peace Torch on their way to run around the field.

High-fives all the way around!

A new friend challenged Brahmata to a race and he won very easily!

Harita ran with her new friends, who all wanted to hold the torch at the same time.

We had nice food and conversation as we shared lunch with the students.

We attended a very special afternoon ceremony at Enrique Camarena Elementary School. There were over 1,000 students including students from three nearby schools: Olympic View, Wolf Canyon and Hedenkamp. Principal Dr. Debra McLaren began with the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced the guests.

Roxy Paranada, Student Council President, gave a wonderful speech. She said, "Peace starts with YOU! Only you and your attitude can control peace. Peace is simple, make it real and manageable... Be kind and everything else will fall into place."

A lot of children had made their very own torches!

Manorath, who coordinated all of these incredible events, held the U.S.A. flag as he high-fived the students.

The Camerena Kindergarten class sang "Dona Nobis Pacem" (Grant Us Peace) by Mozart.

The Hedencamp Percussion Ensemble put on a very spirited performance.

The Hedencamp students sang "Paz y Libertad" by Jose Luis Orozco.

Lisa Lines from Olympic View modeled the special "Teach Peace" shirt that the students and staff wore just for the occasion, they all looked great in their matching shirts!

The Olympic View choir sang "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" by Bill Backer.

The Camerena Dance Team danced to the Peace Run song.

The Wolf Canyon students recited a poem that they had memorized; "My Dream: A Vision of Peace" by Todd Michael St. Pierre.

The Wolf Canyon string ensemble played a beautiful rendition of "The Appalachian Hymn" by Soon Hee Newbold.

Papaha, a San Diego local, lead the students in a moment of inner peace. Over 1,000 people observing silence together is very powerful.

A smile says it all!

Dr. Matthew Tessier, Assistant Superintendent, gave a motivating speech.

Mathew Shy, the Principal at Wolf Canyon, received a certificate of appreciation and a piece of artwork by the founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy, that we gifted his school.

Gina Mazeau from Hedenkamp and Lisa Lines from Olympic View also received artwork and certificates on behalf of their schools.

Pujari, one of our San Diego Peace Runners, was interviewed by a local TV station.

We passed the torch through the crowd and the students were so excited to hold it!

We were so happy to see such creative expressions of peace all around!

They had really done their research on the Peace Run and all of the notable people who have held the Peace Torch.

We were delighted that Melissa Minas, Project Manager for the Chula Vista School District, accompanied us at all of the ceremonies today. She was instrumental in the coordination of all of the events in Chula Vista.

Students added their art, poetry and thoughts on peace to the "Wall of Peace"...

...and so did we!

"I Wish For Peace"

Bleu the dog is our San Diego Peace Run team mascot!

The team gathered at the Peace Garden on Adams Avenue to take a picture with a statue of Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the Peace Run.

"Let it be the choice of each and every human being to have our earth planet be flooded with peace."

-Sri Chinmoy