First Annual Betsy Sawyer Day 2016!

On September 21, 2016, dozens of middle schoolers marched down Groton’s Main Street after classes let out. They were on their way to the Prescott School for the community-wide ceremony in honor of their late teacher and fellow peacemaker, Mrs. Betsy Sawyer, who lost her battle with Leukemia in April, 2016.  The Groton and Dunstable Boards of Selectmen made proclamations formally designating September 21st, International Day of Peace, as Betsy Sawyer Day in Groton and Dunstable.

This community ceremony downtown was one of four celebrations of her life and legacy that day, and commenced with the ringing of a Peace Bell. It featured presentations from many members of the community. Groton was represented by Town Selectman Joshua Degen, who read the proclamation stating in Groton that the International Day of Peace is Betsy Sawyer Day. High School Peacemakers Jen and Lauren Thorburn each shared what Betsy meant to them and the Peace Club, and Groton-Dunstable Superintendent Dr. Kristan Rodriguez recited an original poem written for the occasion. Middle School Principal James Lin added a kind tribute, and State Representative Sheila Harrington read a Resolution in Betsy’s honor passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives before the Groton-Dunstable High School Chamber Choir concluded the ceremony with a beautiful performance on the steps of Prescott Building.

At this event the peacemakers were honored to be joined by 9/11 First Responder and founder of the FealGood Foundation John Feal and former Ambassador and United Nations Under-Secretary-General Emeritus Anwarul Chowdhury, who has made tremendous strides in the fight for women’s equality worldwide and his work with and for third-world countries.
Earlier in the day Ambassador Chowdhury visited the High School to headline a dynamic roundtable discussion about Peace and Betsy’s legacy, provoking questions from and engaging in discussion with nearly twenty of the older high-school Peacemakers. Afterwards, he made a presentation at the Middle School to the students, speaking alongside Mr. Lin and current Bookmakers & Dreamers club leader Dianne Repaal.  Middle School peacemakers Arlena Bourque, Jenna Koch, Anna Kubick, Abby Flynn, and Abby Schuster all presented select poems from The Big Book, while Katherine and Jillian Suchecki spoke about the legacy Betsy left and the teacher, friend, and role model she was to them all.

The culminating event of the day took place in Shirley, Betsy’s hometown: The First Annual Betsy Sawyer Day Banquet.  The Pages for Peace Foundation, alongside the Sawyer and Guercio families, hosted the evening event in the historic concert hall of her family’s restaurant, The Bull Run.  After mingling with other guests and having the opportunity to partake in a silent auction, attendees sat down for a three-course meal prepared by the Bull Run’s best chefs.  Guests had the opportunity to view a short video about the project before hearing from one of Betsy’s daughters, Ali, who acted as the Master of Ceremonies.
Banquet speakers included middle school students Abby Schuster, Madelyn Kelly, and Ryan Mosscrop giving an update about what the club is working on.  This was followed by a speech by the newest and youngest member of the Board of the Pages for Peace Foundation, Student Representative Michael Suchecki, who spoke about Betsy and how she taught that peace cannot be something you merely hope for, but rather something you fight for.  Original Peace Club member Drew Gentile spoke about what he gained from his time working with World Merit at the United Nations early in September, and how in reality peace is simple.  At that point Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury and John Feal both made keynote presentations, with the Ambassador speaking about his commitment to student-led peace projects, women’s rights, and sharing a personal anecdote about Betsy and the book.  John Feal spoke about the importance of the book, his relationship with Betsy, and his commitment to seeing the book make it to phase II: the spreading of its messages of peace and, of course, the world tour.

Finally, the banquet participants got an opportunity to hear from Kate Sawyer, Betsy’s other daughter, who shared a bit about her mom and an anecdote with the audience before Betsy Sawyer Day was formally ended by Pages for Peace President Susan Willcox and Vice President Anne Polaski with upcoming news about the Big Book’s future and the ringing of the Peace Bell to close the evening.

In the words of Betsy Sawyer, “Once a Peacemaker, always a Peacemaker.”

Peace Boat trip to NYC, Oct 2016

On October 20, PFP board members Anne Polaski and Drew Gentile travelled to NYC to attend the Peace Boat’s “Floating Festival for Sustainablility” which was held in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Public Information to celebrate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The foundation has been working with our NYC partners Jean Trudel and Kelly Egan to explore the possibility of having the Big Book travel around the world next year on the Peace Boat and this event was the perfect opportunity to tour the boat and learn more about its mission.  The evening featured inspirational speeches from UN and Peace Boat representatives, as well as diplomatic and civil society members.  Over 600 people were welcomed on the boat and the gala evening was full of musical and cultural performances and exhibitions.  Both Anne and Drew came away from the event committed to collaborating with the Peace Boat with hopes of seeing our Big Book (in one form or another) on its voyage in 2017.  With a year to work on arrangements, the PFP Foundation is hopeful that the biggest peace boat and the biggest peace book can join efforts to promote peace worldwide.

Jean and Kelly have also been instrumental in working with the 9/11 Museum to consider the possibility of an exhibit of the Big Book there, and on October 21 Anne and Drew met with the education department staff of the museum to further that goal.  A valued partnership between that department and our foundation is growing, and Drew has written a post for their blog about his experience sharing the story of the Big Book with museum visitors this past summer. As we continue to seek out additional exhibit sites, the United Nation, the 9/11 Museum, and the Peace Boat are the ones we hope to secure to reach the widest global audience.

Pages for Peace Story Featured World Wide!

Global Education Webinar 2016

The story behind the making of Big Book: Pages for Peace has generated growing interest in global communities and the Board of Directors is pleased to share two recent opportunities that have featured our project this fall: Childhood Explorer magazine and the 2016 Global Education Conference.   Collaborating with educational initiatives is a major goal of our foundation as we continue to spread the message of creating a more peaceful world.

Childhood Explorer is an online publication that focuses specifically on the experience of childhood around the world. Its pages feature informative and inspirational stories about childhood and about projects and campaigns that provide quality education, care, and support to children and youth in diverse communities and circumstances.  It is published by the Association for Childhood Education International, headquartered in Washington, D.C.   Stacey Chilcoat wrote the extensive article for the fall issue, and it is beautifully laid out complete with pictures and compelling quotes and can be read at  http://www.childhoodexplorer.org/new-page-3. ACEI will be promoting the article via social media and email in the coming weeks and we are continuing to collaborate with them on an article about our foundation for their print journal.

The Pages for Peace Foundation was also invited to be keynote speakers at the 2016 Global Education Conference which took place from November 13 – November 16 online around the world.  The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, inclusive, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels, with over 25,000 members. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity. The conference presents ideas, examples, and projects related to connecting educators and classrooms with a strong emphasis on promoting global awareness, fostering global competency, and inspiring action towards solving real–world problems. Anne Polaski, Susan Colt-Willcox, and Diane Repaal presented a one hour, live webinar session on November 14, which included a power point slide show detailing many of the highlights of the 12 year project, a tribute to Betsy Sawyer, and the current goals of the Peace Club.  Many of the photos used were from the comprehensive collection of our photographer, Karen Riggert.  We were honored to be featured at this conference and hope our project will continue to foster connections with other educators.  The full keynote session is available on Youtube at https://youtu.be/ShUYJVRi8YU.

 

Big Book comes home to Groton, MA.!


COMMUNITY VIEWING OF BIG BOOK: PAGES FOR PEACE

The Big Book bookmakers team, the Pages for Peace Foundation, and the GDRMS Bookmakers and Dreamers Club are excited to offer a “Big Book: Pages for Peace” community viewing event. Big Book will be on display in the Prescott School gymnasium, 145 Main Street, Groton, MA 01450 as a thank you to all the hundreds of local citizens who have supported this project over the last 12 years. We invite you to come view this giant book, 12 feet tall and 20 feet wide when open, with 1071 pages of peace letters, artwork, poetry, songs, and other documents submitted to Big Book from all over the world. Two kiosks with digital versions of Big Book will accompany the display so that visitors will be able to view the book electronically.

The Big Book community event is dedicated to the Big Book project founder, peace club leader and teacher, Betsy Sawyer, who lost her battle with cancer on April 3, 2016. “Big Book: Pages for Peace” is on display through October 7, 2016, from 9 AM to 4 PM.