Partner Program + International Day of Peace

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Glen Urquhart established their partner program in 1984 to support their mission and continue to foster an inclusive school environment in which students learn to respect all people, value their differences, act responsibly in our community and in the world.

Every student at GUS is assigned a partner. “Our partners program exemplifies the value of mixed-age learning experiences. We use the arts as a tool and bring partners together to explore a variety of academic topics. Using the arts allows a range of learners to participate together in meaningful ways,” explains first grade teacher Marnie Potish.

The partnerships enhance the school’s sense of community, allowing younger students a view into older students’ lives and giving older students opportunities to nurture and mentor. Seventh graders, for example, have first graders for partners, and they share the same theme: Who Am I? Fifth graders pair with kindergarteners. Sixth graders partner with second and third graders, and eighth graders team up with fourth graders.

Partners meet every month or so for an activity, and they also share special occasions, such as Bread Day and May Day. “It's a great way for us to come together as a full community,” Sarah Kotwicki, director of lower school, comments, “to get to know each other, and share fun experiences.”

Partners met for the first time this week to celebrate the International Day of Peace. The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on September 21. Established in 1981 by the unanimous United Nations resolution 36/37, the General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” Sixth and seventh grade social studies teacher Christine Draper integrated the recognition and celebration of peace into the GUS school day on September 21, several years ago. “Students hear so much in the news about violence and hate. It’s important to celebrate all the good in the world, to give young people a sense of hope, and to help students see themselves as agents of change,” emphasizes Gretchen Forsyth, director of upper school.

This year, GUS students participated in a project created by the nonprofit organization Postcards for Peace. The goal of the Postcard Exchange Network is to create a network of schools around the world who believe in teaching future generations about respect for and tolerance of different cultures and religions.

GUS plans to expand their relationship with Postcards for Peace, pairing with schools in very different parts of the world. The network includes over forty schools in the UK, USA, Canada, Greece, New Zealand, Iceland, Russia, Lebanon, India, Togo, Mexico, and Taiwan.

Whitney Buckley