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Promoting Peace through Community Service - PeaceJam Club at Pineview Highschool

     The PeaceJam Foundation is an international organization whose mission statement is "to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody." PeaceJam Foundation also works with the Billion Acts of Peace movement which has 10 issue areas: advancing women and children, alleviating extreme poverty, clean water for everyone, conflict resolution, education and community, ending racism and hate, global health hand wellness, human rights for all, non-proliferation and disarmament and protecting the environment. Everyday people are taking action to alleviate some of these issue areas in their local communities. There are currently multiple PeaceJam initiatives and groups in countries throughout the Globe. This story will feature the PeaceJam Club at Pineview Highschool and how a group of students are involved in the PeaceJam foundations mission as well as community service projects they work on their community to promote peace.

     Samantha Sineath is currently in 11th grade at Pineview Highschool. She started the PeaceJam Club at her campus when she was in 8th grade. There are around 40 students registered in the club and about 25-30 make it to the weekly meetings. The students organize and fundraise for different issues relating to the international PeaceJam’s mission and to the Billion Acts of Peace movement. There is a blind application process to get into the club. They try to admit students who have leadership skills and care about and are passionate about community service. During their meetings they talk about current events or political news. They also plan what kind of issue or project they will work on. The whole club goes to regional conferences at least once a year. This year they are going to a conference in April at Florida State University with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee from Liberia. At the conferences, they go through a series of activities, group talks and more with the Laureate. Samantha spoke on how the conferences leave the students with a sense of wanting to bring that energy and inspiration back to the school. She commented on how these conferences changed her perspective in many ways and taught her how to lead her community through a particular approach. Some of their direct community service acts include projects like doing a farm share. They go to a title one elementary school and they give out free produce to the students. They also did an event with Rise Against Hunger where they raised $3,000 and packaged 18,000 meals which shipped to Haiti. A new project they are working on is collecting items to make care packages for the homeless. Students have the opportunity to donate items and help to distribute them personally to the homeless. The PeaceJam international organization and the PeaceJam club at Pineview Highschool are perfect examples of how communities are uniting to promote peace in the world.

We want to hear your thoughts about the state of education in Florida. Please comment on the following:

1. Public schools in Sarasota County stand to lose $60m in state funding, if the Republican supermajority in Tallahassee passes HB-1, which would make all students eligible to receive state funds for private tuition.

2. The leadership changes at New College of Florida with a stated goal of transforming the school into the 'Hillsdale of the South'.

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