The International Peace Garden located on the school grounds at Nerstrand Elementary School is a collection of ideas from horticulture, science, art and geography from the many cultures of the world. Peace gardens encourage peaceful resolution of conflicts and a greater understanding and acceptance of people. At Nerstrand Elementary School we need to be about building a world full of hope for peace. This garden of beauty, challenging ideas and understanding of the world can fulfill that promise. Countries from all areas of the world have been chosen to be represented in our Peace Garden. A large P-E-A-C-E sign is placed on the roofline of the school so it will reflect the early morning sun on the east outside wall of the gym. Every sunny morning when the students arrive at school, they see this P-E-A-C-E sign. A Japanese garden includes a gentle waterfall and a stream and rock pathway. An "island" rock represents Australia, with a sailboat sculpture, dedicated to former principal of the school, Bonnie Jean Flom. African animal sculptures including a giraffe and an elephant (whose heart was dedicated to former principal and heart transplant recipient, Dennis Deanovic) represent the African countries of Kenya and Tanzania. Four horses pulling a hundred year old grain drill represent the countries of Russia and Poland. In order for world peace to become a reality, people's basic needs have to be met, including hunger. These horses, just as the elephant and giraffe, were designed by the students and judged and selected to be representative of the entire student body. A student committee works with environmental volunteer Larry Richie each week to add to the Children's Peace Garden and work on the preservation of the countries already depicted. Current projects include a castle sculpture with drawbridge to represent the countries of England and Ireland and "the great wall of China" complete with a moon door.
Discovery Day is an annual environmental day that is held in early October at the Big Woods State Park. Students, staff and volunteers walk the two miles out to the Big Woods, where parent and adult volunteers take multiage groups of students around to different stations manned by staff members where environmental games are played and crafts are made. Discovery Day was held on Monday, October 4th, 2004. Over thirty parent, grandparent and adult volunteers helped with the day. Lunch was served at the park and the students gathered nuts after lunch for the DNR to help with reforestation of the Big Woods at some point in the future. Activities included the Salmon Run, which simulates the life cycle of a salmon, a nature hike to Hiddlen Falls, a craft station where note cards were made and placemats decorated and a tug-of war game called the Ducks and Ptarmigans, that foretold whether the winter will be mild or harsh.
Prairie Appreciation Day
Each year in September the students and staff of Nerstrand Elementary School board buses and head out to Caron County Park just west of the Big Woods State Park to participate in Prairie Appreciation Day. The students are paired up with homeroom friends, usually one or two older students with one or two younger students. The team is given a worksheet to work on which asks the students about different plants, insects or seeds they may see on their adventure on the Prairie. As you can see by the various pictures, the grasses were especially tall this fall! What a wonderful environmental experience for the students!
Nerstrand Elementary School has a strong partnership with its community. Community members volunteer monthly to help get the sandwich supplies ready for the students to make sandwiches for the Simpson Homeless Shelter. The Nerstrand Women's Club supplies the school with extra mittens and hats for cold weather, help students with the community clean-up days and ditch clean up. Elders are spotlighted during our annual spring Community Celebration, when two elders are chosen to interview and then the students take the elders' stories and weave them into songs honoring them. Elders' Coffees are held periodically throughout the school year as a chance for the elders to come to school, interact with the students and enjoy a treat with them. Homerooms take turns hosting the afterschool coffees. Community Lunches are held four times per year when we invite parents, grandparents and especially community members to come and enjoy lunch with the students. The October Community Lunch is especially well attended because we are a host site for the Flu Shot Clinic. Our Holiday program in December welcomes community members as does the spring Community Celebration. Community members volunteer for a myriad of activities and events and are an integral part of the school family.