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One Peace Project

Laguna Beach School District

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One Peace Project

In a world of ever-increasing tensions, 20 third and fourth-grade students at the Community Learning Center (CLC) created a clear message that rises above the fray. Trusting in the conviction of their school’s philosophy that kids can make a difference, they wrote a song to share their vision of a peaceful world. Their song, titled “One Peace at a Time,” reminds us that peace can start with the smallest act and that the basic virtues of compassion, understanding and communication are the pieces needed to solve the puzzle of peace. Memorably melodic and lyrically poetic, the song calls to mind the folk songs of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, spiced up with a dose of modern day rap.

“It all began with a theme and a vision,” said Laia Hansen, CLC’s third and fourth-grade teacher. “The theme was ‘We are World Peacemakers,’ and the vision was that kids can, literally, have a voice in their future.” Throughout 2003/2004 school year, the students participated in a variety of peace-focused activities. Inspired by a visit to the school by Robert Mueller, former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and a world-renowned advocate for peace, the students wrote their ideas, images and impressions of a peaceful world and what they could do to create that ideal.

One Peace at a Time Song

“I was impressed by the poetic beauty and sophisticated metaphors the children used to describe their vision of a peaceful world,” said Hansen. “Their ideas deserved to be heard and remembered. Music is the universal language, so a song was the natural way to have lasting impact.” Hansen enlisted the assistance of two parents, Bara Waters and Robert Cassard, both longtime songwriters, to work with the children teaching them song structure, rhyming patterns and lyrical templates.

“The process was totally organic. The kids even sacrificed recess to participate in our creative sessions,” said Waters. “It was inspiring to see the children’s joy at taking their images of peace and crafting them into a song with verses, a chorus and a bridge.” Cassard wrote the melody and chords, while the students created the rhythm of the song’s rap-influenced bridge.

“The whole experience was magic! We loved the song so much that we invited the students to record it in our home studio and create a CD,” said Cassard. “In recording and mixing the song, we used a combination of solos, duets, and small groups. It’s amazing how the recording itself conveys the importance of individual and collective participation in the peace process.”

With the purity and inspiration of its message, “One Peace at a Time” has taken on a life of its own. The song has made its way to both the ears of Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, who wrote, “Congratulations to the children involved for their outstanding effort and creative initiative in making this beautiful song. It is always wonderful to learn that young people are so committed to peace in the world.” and to former president Jimmy Carter who wrote, "Rosalynn joins me in thanking you for the wonderful CD. It is a welcome addition to our collection, and we appreciate your rememebering us in such a thoughtful way. It is comforting to know that the future of our great nation will soon be in the hands of fine your people like you".

Performances and CD Sales

The children performed the song at churches and events around Orange County. Performances at the Neighborhood Congregational Church and the United Methodist Church in Laguna Beach generated heartfelt standing ovations and sellouts of the song's CD. The students also performed at the 2005 Top of the World School's Talent Show and at the 2004 Peace Wants You! festival at the University of Calivornia, Irvine.

  Sales of the $5 “One Peace at a Time” CD offered the children another opportunity to make a difference. They dedicated the proceeds from CD sales towards the purchase of a van for the Puerta de Fe Orphanage in Baja, Mexico, one of the children's favorite charities. Future proceeds from sales of the CD will benefit other peace-oriented efforts of the children's choice.

For more information or to order CD’s, contact Bara Waters at (949) 494-5372.

See the One Peace Brochure.

Click here to see Jimmy Carter's response to the One Peace CD.

Click here to see the Kofi Annan's letter from the United Nations.