Over the course of two very hot summer days, nearly 50 community members volunteered to help restore the Circle of Peace, Peace Wall Memorial located on the grounds of the Sanfordville Elementary School.
The Memorial, a 60-foot diameter stone wall and adjacent garden, had become overgrown and was last restored in 2011.
The Memorial was originally conceived and designed by Partners In Education (PIE) retired teacher Beverly Braxton’s students in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Their goal was to honor those lost and to create a place of solace for the community.
Elements in the Memorial include rich symbolism conceived by the students – stones representing strength and eternity, water representing purity and life, and the four compass point openings that welcome everyone.
Initial support of the Warwick community transformed the students’ design concept into reality through generous donations from individuals and businesses of time, money, resources and labor.
This included the building of the rock wall, installation of fountains, and planting of foliage.
The Memorial was previously named in the Times Herald-Record as one of the 10 best things about Warwick; was chosen as a site on the 2006 Countryside Garden Tour; won a national “Remember Me” Rose School award; and meets the status of a “living memorial” by the USDA Forest Service.
During the past 16 years, the WVCSD’s Building and Grounds Department has taken responsibility for regularly mowing in and around the memorial and repairing its three water fountains.
But more involved maintenance of the gardens and trees to preserve the peace memorial’s aesthetic quality requires ongoing additional support from the public.
The last organized volunteer effort to revitalize the Memorial was back in 2011, by the students who had originally conceived it, many of whom had just graduated high school.
Beverly Braxton, who had shepherded those students through their process of designing the Memorial when they were 3rd and 4th graders, is concerned that the space will lose its significance and regular use by the community without ongoing attention: “My hope is that through regular upkeep by the community, my students’ original vision for this space to be a place of serenity and remembrance can remain alive.”
The most recent volunteer effort was the first serious maintenance since 2011, and it would not have been possible without the help of the larger Warwick community.
Volunteers included children and teachers from the Bellvale School and their principal Mr. Frank Maendel; participants from Greystone Programs of Warwick; Warwick Cub Scout Pack 177; a half dozen local families; and parents, teachers, and students in the PIE program.
Many businesses generously donated required materials for this recent effort: Material Processors, Inc. (mulch), E.P. Jansen Nursery, Florida (pea gravel and river stones), Wadeson's Home Center (fountain material), Home Depot of Monroe (landscape fabric), ShopRite (refreshments) and Wolfie's Restaurant (lunch and dinner).
Jamie Harrington PIE 3-4 teacher