This mural by students at Nichols Middle School evolved from discussions about envisioning Evanston as a peaceable city. Photo from Evanston Public Library

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Students at three District 65 middle schools were asked to imagine their school communities and Evanston as peaceful places without violence. “Engage! Imagine Peace in Evanston” is a joint project funded by Foundation 65 for students at Chute, King Lab and Nichols in partnership with the Evanston Public Library.

The grant was written to engage middle school students in the vision of Evanston as a PeaceAble city by 2020, a goal articulated by PeaceAble Cities: Evanston. Students were encouraged to explore their own visions of peace and to give voice to those visions through a variety of creative activities and discussions regarding issues of peace, violence, and kindness.

“Led by teachers, librarians and Integrated Arts faculty, each school developed different approaches to these conversations resulting in amazing and moving projects,” said Laura Antolín, children’s librarian at the Evanston Public Library.  “It was an honor to work with these talented teachers and students.”

This project culminated in a celebration on May 8 at SPACE where students and their families, District 65 administrators and teachers, Foundation 65 Board members, PeaceAble Cities: Evanston Board members, City officials and Library staff came together to share the schools’ visions of peace.

Foundation 65 Executive Director Lise Jinno said, “This program gave students an opportunity to articulate their ideas of peace through visual art, music, drama, literature and more – and we were amazed by their honesty and creativity.”

Poet Deja K. Taylor delivered a powerful performance. Nearly 40 students showcased their creativity in imagining Evanston as a city of peace – free of violence and filled with a culture of people willing to help their neighbor.