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September 24, 2021 - 11:54am

St. Joe's students recognized for their creations of ‘love’ for the Peace Garden

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Sometimes one good deed earns another. 

And 10-year-old Maddie Casey and her St. Joseph’s School summer camp peers learned that lesson this week for a project they donated to Batavia Peace Garden. The students, including four who served as leaders from Notre Dame High School, were honored with Certificates of Appreciation Thursday at the Summit Street elementary school.

“We do crafts every day, and we painted some rocks. I used lots of bright colors so they’d stand out,” Maddie, a fifth-grader, said. “Knowing that you’re doing something for someone else, it just feels really good.”

Last month school students and officials heard that several Peace Garden stones had been stolen from the garden property next to Holland Land Office Museum. Project coordinator Stephanie King  said that the group members were talking about it and “they were very concerned.”

St. Josephs’s Principal Karen Green read about the theft and “it just struck a chord with me,” she said. Green knew she and her students could help out, especially since they had recently finished a stone decorating project at the elementary school’s summer camp. She and King gathered 30 leftover stones and tasked students to get busy.

“I loved the words they used … one stone said Peace, and another Kindness, and Faith,” Green said. “I’m so glad we touched their hearts. I think a little act of kindness goes a long way.”

It was heart-warming news, International Peace Garden founder Paula Savage said. The original stones were the result of a two-month project completed by Savage and Peace Garden Committee member Dona Tiberio. 

“This idea was intended to draw interest for children to visit and enjoy the garden. The very day after we placed the stones, they disappeared. We were devastated,” Savage said. “When we received the phone call from Karen Green it brought tears to our eyes. We could hardly believe these children were so inspired by our story. The children placed their artwork in the garden and it is there for visitors to enjoy.”

First-grader Maggie Spencer helps her mom in the garden at home, and wanted to contribute to the Peace Garden project "because those people felt sad," she said. Maggie painted one of her stones purple and added yellow and blue dots. Receiving a thank-you and knowing she made a difference made it all the better, she said.

“I’m very, very happy,” the six-year-old said.

Batavia Town Historian Berneda Scoins presented the certificates, along with Peace Garden pins. She had previously walked through the garden to see the children’s handiwork and knew “they were created with love,” she said.

“They made me smile, knowing these students added a blessing to the garden,” Scoins said. “We need to embrace our youth and encourage them to continue to be kind and loving. Genesee County and St. Joe’s can be very proud of these young people.”

Garden committee members are celebrating the site’s 10th anniversary.  They decorated it for fall and hope the community will continue to enjoy the West Main Street site with each changing season, Savage said. 

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Photos by Howard Owens

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Submitted photo.

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