Let peace begin with us

Michelle Paris, Principal – Northwest Catholic School

Friday night was very special at Northwest Catholic School—we dedicated our new Peace Garden to Laylah Peterson, a beloved student lost tragically to gun violence in 2014.

It wasn’t long ago that this garden was just a blank space, a patch of grass. Now this space is full of promise and hope. Imagine next year at this time when this garden will be in full bloom, showing off all its colors and vibrancy.

Colorful, vibrant, kind—and faith-filled. Those words remind us of Laylah.

The garden has already started conversations among our students. Conversations about peace and what that looks like and feels like. Our school motto is Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Shine. But we know that sometimes it’s difficult to shine when life around us isn’t always peaceful.

For this reason, we are honored to be in our third year of partnership with Mount Mary University to implement a Mindfulness curriculum that reaches all of our students, from K4 to eighth grade. We want our students to understand the ways their thoughts and feelings affect them.

Time spent on Mindfulness, every single day, with the help of our school counselors, gives our students methods to take charge of their emotions — to relax and refocus. When our school community takes time for Mindfulness, we meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of our students, and provide them with the tools they need to be successful in life. And this is how peace spreads—in our school and throughout our community.

We are happy to have a physical place where our students, staff and families can reflect and find peace. Laylah and her kind and loving spirit will forever be the foundation for this garden and what it represents. Next summer, the butterflies and the hummingbirds that frequent this garden will fly in her honor.