FAIRFIELD — At exactly 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, students at the Kennebec Montessori School lined up in a semi-circle holding colorfully decorated handmade pinwheels and prepared to sing the familiar words of the song “Sing Peace Around the World.”

They gathered around the school’s peace pole, which displays the message, “May peace prevail on Earth” in 12 languages, and softly began to sing their song from memory.

In Montessori schools around the world, the tradition of singing “Sing Peace Around the World” is used annually to mark International Day of Peace, a day first set forth by the United Nations in 1981 to reinforce the need for world peace.

Peace is an important part of the curriculum in many Montessori schools, said Kennebec Montessori School Principal Rebecca Green, who said her students have been participating in the “Sing Peace Around the World” tradition since its inception in 2009.

Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori educational philosophy, was a three-time nominee for the Noble Peace Prize who encouraged teachers to cultivate peace and courtesy in their classrooms in addition to the idea that children learn best from their environment.

“Peace is a big part of the Montessori curriculum,” Green said. “It’s the foundation for helping children figure out who they are in the world and how to treat others with respect.”

The Kennebec Montessori School, a nonprofit alternative school in Fairfield that draws students from tuition-paying families in 10 area districts, currently enrolls 104 students. The school is growing with a new combined grade level classroom added this year.

Traditions like International Peace Day are part of the reason why Green said more parents are seeking to educate their children at the school, where a conflict is more likely to be resolved by calling a class meeting than by sending a student to the principal’s office. The school on Sheridan Drive will also be hosting a workshop open to the public on peace education and peace in the classroom at 4:30 Thursday.

“These are great 21st century skills,” Green said. “It really mimics the workplace more than a traditional classroom. Instead of being told what to do, the students have to figure it out.”

The “Sing Peace Around the World” tradition takes place each year at exactly 11 a.m.

“That way it reverberates around the world for 24 hours,” Green said.

After the song, the students planted their pinwheels — decorated with their own interpretations of peace — in the yard in front of the school.

Noah Spieldenner, 10, explained that pinwheels are used because, like the world, they spin.

“The whole world spins and peace is what makes it spin,” said Spieldenner, of Fairfield.

“They also look cool and spin really fast,” added Martin Hazelhurst, 9, of Troy.

Amy Murphy, who teaches 4th through 6th grades in the new combined classroom, known at the school as the “upper level,” said conflict resolution and the theme “How can we create peace?” are lessons that her students will work on all week.

In addition to the “pretty big playground” and the fact that she doesn’t have to sit at a desk during the day, Autumn Duffy, 9, said that lesson is also something that appeals to her as a student at Kennebec Montessori.

“The world is a better place when it’s full of peace,” she said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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