Wed, June 26

Imagine<br>CMS mural a picture of peace

John Lennon lived a life celebrating cultural diversity.

Students at Cottonwood Middle School continue his dream.

According to artist Joan Bourque, Lennon's vision of peace is the inspiration behind her newest mural design in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

Through the support of a grant from the Arizona Commission of the Arts along with help from student organizations, the wall of color gives praise to the world's differences.

"We tried to portray what we felt about each other," explains Tricia Hutchinson, a gifted education specialist who organized students to assist in the mural's creation. "We wanted to include as many students from various ethnic groups along with those who loved the arts and those with leadership to help pull all this together."

Since the devastating destruction Sept. 11, the mural has become not only a means of bringing students together, but according to Hutchinson, it has served as a therapeutic catalyst for children in grades 6 through 8.

"It's been a real focal point to work through anger, grief and confusion over what's been going on," she explained.

As a result of the efforts of Bourque, the mural's message will soon be transported to New York. "I'm going to send it to Yoko Ono," she explained. "Maybe she'll write back to the kids. Wouldn't that be great?"

A written response from Lennon's widow aside, students already are experiencing the rewards of the weeks dedicated to the many colors of peace.

According to Hutchinson, students' level of openness along with spontaneous acts of kindness, are some of the fringe benefits of incorporating the idea of tolerance on the CMS campus.

A sense of ownership and community is another.

"They're glad they did this, it's their legacy," she says. "There's a lot of pride in the mural. It says this is who we were back then."

Imagine the world living as one.