OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Corvallis Middle-Schoolers Keep Linus Pauling’s Peace Legacy Alive

04/15/2008

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Linus Pauling may have graduated from Oregon State University – then Oregon Agricultural College – more than 80 years ago, but his legacy in Corvallis remains strong, and not just in the science classroom.

At Linus Pauling Middle School, a group of 32 students who call themselves the Peacemakers are working to create a better environment for their peers and teachers. They say their work is based on the principles by which Pauling, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1962, lived his life.

“It’s all about making the school a better place,” said Claire McMorris, 13.

The Peacemakers, headed by school counselor John Harrison, started as a peer-mediation group. They also grew to act as ambassadors and advocates for new students at Linus Pauling, hold leadership roles and take part in surveys to improve the climate at the school.

The point, Harrison says, is to teach children to actively celebrate individuality and uniqueness rather than their differences.

“We want a welcoming environment for students and teachers,” Harrison said.

Harrison even took a group of 21 students – some from the Peacemakers and some from the school’s Latin American student group, Voces – to OSU’s PeaceJam earlier this year. The students presented a project to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel that addressed the “isms” like sexism and racism that Harrison says cause violence and misunderstanding.

Harrison says school administrators are looking for ways the Peacemakers can be even more involved at Linus Pauling and in their community. “My hope is that they influence their peers, because these kids are more apt to listen to each other than they are to adults,” Harrison said.

As for the students, they’re well aware of Pauling’s history of activism and peacemaking, and want to carry it on.

“We’re just trying to follow his legacy and keep peace at school,” said McMorris.

Note to Editors: This is a sidebar to a release on the upcoming Pauling Peace Lecture at OSU.