Winchester Rotary Club joined with the Handley High School Interact Club to buy the Rotary Peace Pole for the Peace Garden, Winchester, Virginia – USA

May 11th, 2023

Mahalia Jackson famously sang, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Handley High School senior Ashley Truban must have taken those words to heart. The Interact Club treasurer on Wednesday unveiled a Peace Pole Garden on the front lawn of the Winchester school’s campus.

Ashley said she came up with the idea as part of a project she was doing at Mountain Vista Governor’s School, where she is dual-enrolled.

“The Peace Pole Garden has been my passion project for the past several months, and I’m extremely excited to see how it will do over the next year,” she said on Wednesday. “I’m also hopeful the garden will inspire similar environmental initiatives around Winchester.”

“Planting a Peace Pole is a way of bringing people together to inspire, awaken and uplift the human consciousness all over the world,” added Handley Principal Susan Braithwaite. “Peace Poles are now recognized as the most prominent international symbol and monument to peace. They remind us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony.”

Handley High School students, staff, administrators and representatives of the Winchester Rotary Club gather at the school’s new Peace Pole Garden Project for a dedication ceremony Wednesday.

Handley’s Peace Pole — a white post about 6 feet tall that features the words “May Peace Prevail On Earth” in English, Spanish, German, Korean and Braille — was donated by the Rotary Club of Winchester, and the native plants surrounding the Peace Pole were planted by Ashley’s fellow Interact Club members.

“Our club had the idea to combine the Peace Pole donation with a native plant garden to be maintained by Handley Interact for years to come,” Handley Interact Club member Laura Posadas said. “It will serve as a reminder to students and those in our community to seek peaceful resolutions to disagreements and to build opportunities.”

Jaime Karalis, president of the Rotary Club of Winchester, said Rotary first suggested installing a Peace Pole at Handley following a horrific mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018.

“A fellow Rotarian, Rabbi Jonathan Brown [formerly of Beth El Congregation in Winchester], posed a question to our Rotary Club, asking, ‘What can we do so an event like this does not happen in Winchester? What can we do to create peace?’” Karalis recalled on Wednesday. “As Rotarians, we’re steadfast in our commitment to peace, making it a cornerstone of our mission. We firmly believe that when people actively strive to make peace in their communities, the ripple effect can span the globe.

“As we gather here today, I ask us all the following: To praise people, abandon putdowns, seek wisdom, acknowledge and address hurts that we’ve caused, right wrongs, help others and, most importantly, build peace at home, at school and in our community each day,” Karalis said.

To learn more about Handley’s Peace Pole Garden, visit

— article written by Brian Brehm at Winchester Star