Kingston, R.I. – June 3, 2019 – The University of Rhode Island Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies recently recognized the achievements of several Rhode Island middle-schoolers as part of its Rhode Island Eighth Grade Gandhi Essay Contest. This is the ninth year of the contest – the purpose of which is to celebrate the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and to educate future generations on peaceful approaches to addressing the problems of violent conflict in their schools and communities.
This year 131 students from public and private schools around Rhode Island wrote essays offering their own thoughts and reflections on Gandhi’s quote, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” The purpose of the exercise is not only for students to learn, but also to think critically about and personally connect with his message of nonviolence – perhaps even inspiring them to become nonviolent leaders in their own schools.
Reflecting on this year’s content, Center director and Professor of Psychology Paul Bueno de Mesquita stated, “Nonviolence is needed now more than ever in our schools and communities. The students receiving these awards represent hope for the future.”
Twenty-seven student finalists were selected to attend the awards ceremony, along with families and teachers, on May 3 at the University of Rhode Island Robert J. Higgins Welcome Center on URI’s Kingston campus. The winners were:
Jeevika Thazhaiselvam, Dr. E.A. Ricci Middle School, North Providence
Zoey Fioriollo, Joseph L. McCourt Middle School, Cumberland
Isabella Monteiro, The Gordon School, East Providence
Sophia Blythe, The Gordon School, East Providence
Alexander El Okby, Western Hills Middle School, Cranston
Isabel Guastella, Rocky Hill School, East Greenwich
In addition to the Eighth Grade Gandhi Essay Contest awards, the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies also honored eighth graders who have been outstanding in demonstrating compassion and service to others as part of their daily lives. The winners of the Gandhi Award for Compassion and Selfless Service for 2018-2019 were:
Louna Allory – Exeter-West Greenwich Junior High School, West Greenwich
Alvina Howard – Woodlawn Catholic Regional School, Pawtucket
Aleshia Taillon – Saint Philip School, Greenville
Anna Vredenburg – Saint Philip School, Greenville
The contest is an interdisciplinary collaboration among the URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, the URI College of Education and the URI Philosophy Department.