Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Student's animated video wins top prize at peace awards


A $500 grant from Haines People for Peace has snowballed into a much larger project thanks to the Haines High School student council.

Initiated three years ago by JoAnn Ross-Cunningham, the “Building Bridges” grant is presented to the student council, which donates the money to a cause it finds most deserving. The first year, the money went to an orphanage at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Last year, the council expanded the project beyond just sending a check, said council president Royal Henderson.

A delegation from the Haines student council traveled to the Alaska Association of Student Government conference in Kodiak and spoke about the project. They were awarded an additional $500.

“Since then we’ve coordinated with other schools and other student councils around the state to coordinate service projects to send even more money to this orphanage. We just received some news that the Cordova student council raised something around $1,000 and are planning to send it to the same orphanage because of the presentation,” Henderson said.

Last year the council was able to send just over $1,500 to the orphanage, which used the money to build and plumb a new schoolhouse.

The grant was presented at the high school during the Chilkat Valley Peace Prize 5th annual awards potluck on Oct. 30. Students entered videos, songs, collages, and other art pieces pertaining to the idea of promoting peace and peaceful living.

“The general objective, I think, is to get young people in the community to really be thinking about the concepts of peace and how that can apply to their own lives and to their relationships with their family, and at school, and in a broader community and the world at large. And hopefully they will come away with some ideas that can help them be better citizens,” said Melissa Aronson, a volunteer with Haines People for Peace.

Parker Blair took the grand prize for his media project “The Sign of Peace.” Gabi Miller and Sarah Long took first place for their “Compassion Gives Strength” commercial, which advertised a perfume-like product applied to make the user more compassionate.

Miller, 12, said she and Long worked on the project for several weeks. She said the message of their commercial was “that people need to help out with stuff and be as nice as they can” to those around them.  

Shantel Lockhart, Hannah Thomas, and Chelsey Hart took second place for their song “Meant to Be.” Charlie Bower, Mori Hays, and Dawson Evenden were also awarded second place for their “War vs. Peace” collage. Shayne Otton and Allison Stuart won third place for their “Exploring Your Kindness” painting, as did Jonathan Shaw for his poem “Riding on the Peace Train.”

Haines People for Peace gave out $360 in prize money.

Volunteer Carol Tuynman has watched the contest develop over the years and was very pleased with this year’s entries.

“It’s been very interesting to see how the students have nuanced their perceptions. It’s not just good versus bad, it’s not just right and wrong. It’s a much more nuanced appreciation of how much work it takes to make a more peaceful life for yourself, for your family, for the world and your community,” she said. 


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