Pinwheels, balloons ask for peace, remembrance

It’s a tradition at St. Matthew Catholic School to celebrate the feast day of the school’s namesake.

(Above) Students watch the sky intently after the release of 50 red and white balloons and a hand-made, helium-filled rosary. (Below) Pinwheels marked the International Day of Peace.

(Above) Students watch the sky intently after the release of 50 red and white balloons and a hand-made, helium-filled rosary.

A tax collector and important figure in church history, St. Matthew is known for his honorable work in the church, St. Matthew Catholic Principal Kevin O’Herron said. That’s why each year the school hosts a balloon derby celebration in St. Matthew’s honor.

“We just want to honor all he did for the church,” O’Herron said.

The school, which serves transitional kindergarten through fifth-grade students, held the 10th annual Balloon Derby event Friday, Sept. 20, but Feastday of St. Matthew this year fell on Saturday, Sept. 21, the same day as the International Day of Peace. The event also included the school’s more than 600 students, faculty, parents and families reciting a decade of the rosary and releasing 50 balloons to join a hand-made rosary made from red and white helium-filled balloons in the sky above the school. The balloons were a sign of hope and joy.

The tradition started 10 years ago, when initially, all students released a balloon at the derby. But as the student body grew, school officials opted to have two students from each of the school’s 25 classrooms, a boy and a girl, release the balloons. Each balloon also was attached with a card asking citizens to notify the school when a balloon was found, to see how far St. Matthew’s reach could be.

Around the front of the school, a sea of 600 pinwheels could be found spinning on the school’s front lawn. When the school’s art teacher came to O’Herron with an art-related project called Pinwheels for Peace, an international art and literacy project that gives students a chance to plea for peace, O’Herron decided to expand the balloon derby celebration to include the pinwheel display, as well, so all students could actively participate in the day’s celebration.

“I saw the International Day of Peace coincided with the Feast of St. Matthew. It just adds another layer to what we are founded on,” O’Herron said. “Praying for peace not only in the world, but in our homes and in our schools, too.”

Each student at the school designed their own pinwheels, some depicted with words or pictures encouraging peace around the globe. The pinwheels were placed in the school’s front lawn the night before the celebration and were displayed as a sign that war and violence are not solutions, O’Herron said. The school joined more than 3,500 locations stretched across almost every continent for the peace celebration.

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