Primary Grades (K-2) Winning Essays 2016

First Place: Learning Peacemaking from Nature

by Riley Allam, gr. 2, Linwood Holton ES, Richmond Public Schools

When I was three I used to pull flowers off of trees and bushes. I liked to pull them off because they were so pretty. Soon after I learned that the flower, leaves and roots are how plants get their food to grow. I no longer wanted to pull flowers off the trees and bushes because I cared about the plants being healthy.

In the springtime you may see bees among the flowers. Don’t swat them or kill them, they are good! Like me, the bees care about the plants being healthy. Bees and flowers live cooperatively in nature. They are able to help each other in what they do to make their lives go on peacefully. For example as bees fly from flower to flower they pick up nectar from the flowers to make into food. While they are flower-hopping they are also picking up pollen and spreading it to other flowers, allowing them to reproduce. That is called pollination.

Like the flowers and the bees people are also capable of cooperating in order to fill other’s needs. I had the opportunity to work on a house project with my dad and Hands Up Ministries. HUM works to provide safe, affordable housing to help people who typically would not be able to own a home in the Highland Park neighborhood. This project required cooperation between the HUM organization, their client and the volunteers.

HUM researched and found the right house to purchase, the volunteers donated their money, time and skills to renovate the house and the client purchased the completed house from the organization. At first the house had cables hanging, broken glass and the floor joist were showing. By cooperating and sharing our resources, in the end the homeowner purchased a quality house, HUM helped in revitalizing the neighborhood and the volunteers received construction education, quality time together and the pride of accomplishment and service.

Our family knows we need to cooperate with each other live peacefully. Sometimes I just want to play but I help clean up instead. When I do I know it helps make sure we don’t trip over toys, we can find things easier and we have clean dishes to put food on.   If our family didn’t clean up anything, bugs, mold and sanitation problems would happen. We could also get in trouble with the city. That is why it is important to cooperate within the family.

Our communities can also apply these peacemaking lessons. If you pick up trash and put cigarettes in the disposal bin you are helping keep the property of the city clean. Community helpers can’t do their jobs well if we litter. Also bugs and raccoons are tempted to get their food from places they would not usually be when food and trash are on the ground. Pollution is something that everyone in the world can cooperate to reduce. Across the world, fish don’t have fresh water and people, plants and animals don’t have fresh air. This can cause sickness and even death.

We can use reusable bags for shopping, compost our food waste and recycle what we can. Composting helps enrich the soil which is good for healthier plants. Healthier plants can provide more clean air. We can be peacemakers in our families, our communities, and our world by developing habits of cooperation like the bees and the flowers.


Second Place: Peace with Refugees

by Kayvon Kalontari, gr. 2, Mountaintop Montessori School, Charlottesville VA

Today I would like to teach you about the ant and the aphid and how if we act like them we can make peace. Let’s start with the aphid. The aphid is also known as plant lice or ant cows and is an insect that sucks sap.

Now let’s talk about the ant. The ant takes care of the aphids by protecting and building homes for them and in return the aphid gives the ant honeydew that the ant loves. The ant will even guard aphids when it’s in a cocoon although it does not get its reward. That’s because there’s no honeydew when the aphid is in a cocoon.

Refugees are people who have fled their countries because it is not safe there. They run away to a different country, just taking a backpack. When they get there they will need a home, food and money.

Now this is how we can make peace by donating food and money and also stuff that we don’t need like for example toys. With all of us giving a little bit of money there will be enough money for them to buy a house and with enough food and water they can live! Just like the ant and the aphid work together humans working is a way to make peace.



Third Place (tie): Learning Things with Nature

by Brady Elrod, gr. 2, Rural Point ES, Hanover Co. Public Schools

Nature can teach humans stuff.   Like the langur monkey and the spotted deer. The monkey can’t see very well so the deer stomps its foot. That means danger is near and they hide until the predator is gone. The monkey helps too. They are picky eaters so then they throw their food on the ground so that the spotted deer can eat the rest. That’s how they help each other.

That means humans sometimes need to learn to help each other too by sharing, doing chores, making your bed, taking out the garbage and a whole bunch more. Now if everybody in my family takes a job then we will cooperate and have peace. I love learning and helping people, things and animals.


Third Place (tie): 

Jayla Youngblood, gr. 2, Victory Christian Acad., Richmond VA

For my second grade science class I received bean plant seeds planted in a cup of soil. Each day I watered and talked to my plant to help it grow. Soon after it began to show a few little leaves but then it wasn’t long vefore it grew taller and grew lots of leaves.

One lesson we can learn from this process is that if you talk to a bean plant it will grow. The gas called carbon dioxide that you let out is used by the plant, and the plant gives off oxygen that people need. We can do the same to make peace with people. If you talk to them kindly you build up and help them grow.


Third Place (tie):  Be Peaceful Like Butterflies

by Sarina Ravji, gr. K, Kaechele ES, Henrico Public Schools

Peace making is the to be like butterflies.  A caterpillar changes into a butterfly when they go in a cocoon.  Butterflies go through this change called metamorphosis.

The butterfly is so quiet you cannot hear a peep from it.  It goes through the change peacefully.  Sometimes when people have to change they complain and argue.

Be peaceful when you have to change just like butterflies.  Arguments make people feel bad and sad.  If we work together everyone will feel better like a butterfly. I like butterflies.


Honorable Mentions:

Manners from Nature

by Ian Campbell, gr. 2, Rural Point ES, Hanover Co. Public Schools

Animals can teach us about cooperation. When we go outside we see animals but what we don’t notice is sometimes they help each other like a goby fish and a blind shrimp. The shrimp makes a house and the goby fish protects it from danger. It puts its antenna on the fish and when the goby fish spots danger it swipes the shrimp back into the hole.

If you see things like that on land watch it with someone who bullied you and say we should act like them and the bully might change to being nice. If others bully you tell them to be nice and be friends. If you see a kid getting shouted at by another kid go and tell them to be nice and stop bullying.

Here’s another example of teamwork. a cockatoo and fruit tree. A fruit tree makes fruit for the cockatoo. The cockatoo eats the fruit. The seeds pass through the birds body and come out in its droppings at another place and they start to grow. The plant makes food and the cockatoo eats it. It comes out in its droppings and spreads the fruit plant and that’s how the cockatoo and fruit tree work together. So now you learned about nature’s manners!


The Honey badger and the Honeyguide

By Anna Conley, gr. 2, Rural Point ES, Hanover Co. Public School

Some animals help each other in different ways, and we can learn from them. How we can learn from the honey badger and the honeyguide is to work together, be patient, and share. How do honey badger and the honeyguide help each other? Well, the honey badger and the honeyguide are looking for food. Then the honeyguide found something! The honeyguide found a beehive! The honeyguide chirps to the honey badger and the honey badger follows. They went on and on and on until they find the beehive.

The honey badger runs into the beehive and gets stung on the nose and wipes his nose off and gets back in. He does that a few times. Then he gets some of the honeycomb from the beehive. Then he takes some for himself. Then the honeyguide takes the rest. They do that every time they are hungry. They are good at working together, being patient, and sharing and we can be more like them. They are good friends.


The Crocodile’s and the Plover Bird’s Relationship

By Addyson Hoover, gr. 2, Rural Point ES, Hanover Co. Public Schools

Can you believe that a crocodile and a plover bird are friends?  Their relationship is the bird gets food and the crocodile gets clean.  This happens because the crocodile lets the bird clean its mouth.

We can be better at living together cooperatively by putting trust in people.  If someone comes over and says can I do anything for you and if you want something done put trust in them and let them do it.  We should work together like animals because it will helps us get things done faster. We can learn many lessons of peace from animals.