Rotary Club Peace Pole creates space to ‘explore peace’
Written by Bret McKeand
Submitted by: Chuck Fitzgerald, Rotary Club member of Peoria
Officials behind Peoria’s first Peace Pole project are hoping the effort to “explore peace” locally expands to a worldwide initiative.
The Peoria Peace Pole, a collaborative effort between several Rotary clubs and the Peoria Unified School District, was officially unveiled Sept. 21 at Centennial High School, 14388 N. 79th Ave., in Peoria.
The eight-foot peace pole is located on a concrete slab in front of the school’s auditorium. Surrounded by four benches, the space is meant to be used by students, faculty and residents to simply enjoy a quiet moment and appreciate the value and importance of peace.
“This project is about creating space to explore peace,” said Chuck Fitzgerald, a member of The Rotary Club of Peoria. Mr. Fitzgerald and his club created the idea and led the effort to turn the concept into reality.
Mr. Fitzgerald is a long-time Rotarian and a former district governor. Rotary International is one of the largest service organizations in the world. Its missions include fighting disease and eradicating polio, supporting education — and promoting peace throughout the world.
“Everytime you perform a service project, you are a peacemaker,” said Mr. Fitzgerald during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Mr. Fitzgerald is also the organizer of the Peoria Peace Initiative and is hopeful the Peace Pole is the first of many projects that promote peace within the city.
The initiative will include on-campus education, community outreach and public awareness of the value and importance of peace. A website for the project has been created at www.peoriapeaceinitiative.org.
The Peoria Rotary Club also supports a Rotary Interact Club at Centennial. Nadina Fish, president of The Rotary Club of Peoria, says students in the club strongly support the idea behind the Peace Pole.
“We love to collaborate with youth exchange programs,” said Ms. Fish.
Centennial student Makayla Steel, president of the Centennial Interact Club, said it’s important for students to embrace the need for peace throughout the world.
“Our club will be ambassadors of peace on our campus,” said Miss Steel. “If we’re not promoting peace, who will?”
Contributions to cover the cost of the Peace Pole came from businesses, individuals and other Rotary clubs, including The Rotary Club of Peoria North and clubs in Laughlin, Sun City, Mesa and Phoenix.
The Peoria Unified School District and Centennial High School provided the space and will pay for ongoing maintenance.
Dr. Darwin Stiffler, PUSD superintendent, called the Peace Pole a “grand thing,” and a constant reminder that it’s important to always try to resolve differences in a peaceful manner.
“It’s a very visible symbol of a place to find peace — and it’s right up front.”