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CedarBridge marks Peace Day

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CedarBridges Academy's International Peace Day(Photograph by Nadia Hall)

Students of CedarBridge Academy gathered to witness the raising of the Peace Flag.

It followed a special assembly yesterday marking International Peace Day, the fifth of its kind, held annually in the school’s Ruth Seaton James Auditorium.

Head boy Jordan Simmons-Trott read a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moo.

He said: “Every year on the International Day of Peace, the United Nations calls on the people of the world to reaffirm their commitment to living in harmony as members of a single human family.

“This year’s commemoration, ‘Partnerships for Peace — Dignity for All’, highlights the importance of co-operation in silencing the guns and advancing the cause.

“Without the support of governments, civil society, the private sector, faith-based groups and non-governmental organisations, peace will remain elusive.”

Observed annually on September 21 worldwide, the event is dedicated to the absence of war and violence, occasioned by a temporary ceasefire. It was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, usually involving a minute of silence at noon.

In lieu of a minute of silence, Tiffany Fox played a moving violin solo of The Prayer.

Shawnette Somner, an education officer for the Department of Corrections, was invited to speak, tailoring the message of peace to Bermuda’s social climate. Ms Somner said: “I’ve come today to encourage everyone in this auditorium to fight.”

She gave a graphic account of two young men in a public brawl while a crowd of spectators gathered around to observe.

“This story will tug at the emotions of people who have a caring heart and for some it possibly conjures up memories of similar acts already witnessed or personally experienced,” she said.

“To the other extreme, the story is just the kind of action some people love to witness or engage in. So what, you may ask, does this have to do with peace?”

The educator and poet continued: “Sadly, in 2015, it appears that we are experiencing more and more acts or events that contradict the definition of peace. We don’t have to look far to other countries for it. Some people can even look within the walls of their very own homes. The fight that goes on and on creating unrest, disgruntlement, pain, hurt, confusion, chaos, and more fighting.”

Using her work at the Department of Corrections as a warning, Ms Somner said: “Many of the incarcerated men and women regret the choices they made. That place where I work does not have to be your destination. So how can you contribute to fostering an environment of peace? Start within your homes. Start within your school. Just imagine the impact that will ultimately have on our Island and for your future.”

Ms Somner, who is responsible for the education programmes for inmates in Westgate, the Co-Ed, and the Prison Farm, added: “So today I encourage you to go ahead and fight. But make it a fight for peace.”

After the ceremony Mr Simmons-Trott, 17, told The Royal Gazette: “I have a very good relationship with my peers. One thing I’ve learnt from them is that there is love missing. Many of my peers don’t get it at home. They go out looking for it in the streets. They go out looking for it through sex.

“They go out looking for anything just to feel some sort of emotion and it’s horrible. It really is.

“This kid didn’t just wake up and decide to be bad, it’s been developing over time and I wish that, instead of putting the blame on us, that some of these parents would accept what their children are doing. It’s jaw-dropping honestly.

“If there’s anything I want to let the whole world know, it’s that we’re doing our best. We get what we get. We make do with what we have and we’re trying. Love — that’s what they need.”

CedarBridge Academy's International Peace Day(Photograph by Nadia Hall)