WOODSBORO – After delivering a speech in Brownsville on how the Woodsboro school district worked to recover from Hurricane Harvey, Superintendent Janice Sykora received an award on May 3.
The Rotary District 5930 presented an Inspiration Service Award to Sykora, who was invited to the gathering of about 200 people. The Rotary district stretches from Victoria to Brownsville.
Since then, Rotary Club Gov. Andy Hagan bought a peace pole for the school district. He also presented the award to Sykora.
Only four other places in the area have peace poles other than the Woodsboro school district.
Other places that have the pole include Calallen High School, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University-Laredo and Carmen Anaya Elementary School in Pharr.
International places include the pyramids in Egypt, Mt. Everest in Nepal and the United Nations headquarters.
A peace pole is an international symbol and monument of peace. The symbol was started by the World Peace Prayer Society and is supported by Rotary International.
The pole has four sides and “May Peace Prevail on Earth” is written in different languages on each side. And the sides face north, east, south and west.
The Rotary Clubs of District 5930 sponsor the peace poles for schools and communities. The philosophy of Rotary’s help to the community is that keeping people from being hungry promotes peace.
After Hurricane Harvey, Woodsboro’s loss reclassified it at a poverty level, and because of that the school district qualified for free breakfasts and lunches for all students.
This led Sykora’s friend Elaine Hernandez, who worked with Baylor University Hunger Initiative, to help with grants.
One of the grants was for picnic tables on campus for the students to gather and have their meals.
A future grant will help pay for a lunch trailer to be on the grounds.
“She passed through here in December 2017 and told me the area looked like it had a lot of needs,” Sykora said.
A $12,000 grant bought musical instruments, the picnic tables and two pieces of equipment for the shop.
Woodsboro’s peace pole was installed outside near the Woodsboro Junior High School wing.
A special school assembly was held May 8 to honor the award and explain what the pole means.
A couple of students were asked to reflect on peace and what it means.
“Many students volunteered to aid in handing out supplies to families in need, including myself,” said Braden Levick.
“Following the hurricane, peace and unification spilled into our little town demonstrating the moral of this ruinous act of nature. A sense of tranquility has shined through each citizen ... following this monstrous storm,” he added.
“Woodsboro has found peace, even though it was a tragic act of nature; sometimes things bring us down to bring us back better than ever,” said Haylee Martinez.
The Mighty Eagle Band performed the special “Let there be peace on Earth” song with David Spencer and Wayne Sykora singing to conclude the assembly.
Also recognized were Student Council President Mailee Shaw, National Honor Society President Autumn Havens, UIL Academics Rep. Vinay Patel and outstanding athletes Ryan Rodriguez and Trenton Payne (also an Eagle Scout).
Representatives from eighth-grade Kenzie Scott, seventh-grade Gage Veselka and sixth-grade Remington Bolcik were recognized.
State track competitors and medal winners Garrett Burns, Skylar Hall, Anthony Meacham and Bella Coscetti also were recognized.
“Give peace a chance,” Sykora said.
Tim Delaney is the Refugio editor at the Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-526-2397, or at refugio@mySouTex.com.