Wellington Rotary Club Ceremony Aims To Start A Peaceful Dialogue

Wellington Rotary Peace Initiative founder Dr. Wes Boughner releases doves at the end of last year’s peace observance.

The Rotary Club of Wellington will host its annual Rotary Peace Ceremony in support of multicultural understanding and conflict resolution on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. at Rotary Peace Park on Royal Fern Drive, near the Wellington library.

“It’s aimed at conflict resolution and multicultural understanding. We start with that with the kids. The more we can get that into them, where they can be looking at conflict resolution and understanding other people, the less likely we are to move to the kind of situations we have going on in the world now,” Larry Kemp explained.

Kemp is chairman of the Wellington Rotary’s Peace Initiative.

“It’s a long process, but you have to start somewhere, and we try to start with the kids,” he said. “The less conflict there is, and the more conflict resolution there is, the more people understand each other.”

The event is free for everyone to attend, will be held rain or shine, and does not require an RSVP.

The event wouldn’t have its many parts put together without its volunteer committee, which includes Kemp, Wellington Rotary President Debbie Sanacore, Tom Carreras, Randy Pfeiffer, Jay Broder and Tom Eastwood.

The club conducts a poster competition, a poetry competition and an essay competition, which include students at Wellington schools and their teachers. At the ceremony, students and their teachers will be recognized for their achievements.

Elementary school students participate in the poster competition. From Equestrian Trails Elementary School, Ryleigh Villapando was the overall winner. At Binks Forest Elementary School, Colten Pride won; at Elbridge Gale Elementary School, Angelina Gustafson won; and at New Horizons Elementary School, Lara Tolosa won. Villapando is being awarded $75, and the other students are receiving $50. Their teachers will also receive $50.

The club received about 350 posters and selected one winner per school. The club then chose Villapando’s poster at a luncheon as the winning poster for 2017.

For the poetry competition, Stephen Benhardus won from Polo Park Middle School, Sonya Smith-Tembe won from Emerald Cove Middle School and Catherine Paulitz won from Wellington Landings Middle School. Each student will receive $75; their teachers will receive $50.

For the essay competition, students were given a Benjamin Franklin quote to write about: “There never was a good war, or a bad peace.”

Alexandra Dacruz won for Palm Beach Central High School, and Caitlin Lee won for Wellington High School. Both girls will receive $100 and their teachers will receive $50.

Local singer Olivia Henley will lend her vocal talents as she sings the national anthem.

Jayme DeRamus of Palm Beach Central High School is the SMART Award winner. She is president of the school’s Together Against Genocide Club, organized the school’s International Day of Tolerance and works to make Palm Beach Central a “No Place to Hate” school.

“This girl is so impressive,” Kemp said. “She’s involved in all kinds of situations that have to do with bringing people together.”

Kemp is so impressed with DeRamus that the club has asked her to come speak at one of its luncheons.

Kathy Foster, Wellington’s first mayor and founder of the nonprofit Wellington Cares, will be awarded the Community Peace Award.

“We were looking for someone who has done something a little extraordinary within the community that a lot of people really don’t see,” Kemp said. “We’ve given it to lots of other people who do things that go unnoticed in the community. We thought Kathy, with her history with Wellington, we felt with what she’s been doing with Wellington Cares, and how she’s looking to expand that to the whole of Palm Beach County — we think she’s contributing very much to multicultural understanding and being fair to all.”

Foster will accept the recognition during the ceremony.

“I am very appreciative of the Rotary Club and very humbled to be selected as their recipient,” she said. “But I really accept the award on behalf of the wonderful board of directors and volunteers who have made Wellington Cares possible. I may have had the idea, but it was their hard work, devotion, time and commitment to our seniors that made Wellington Cares a reality.”

At the end of the ceremony, white doves will be released.

“The white dove, specifically, is an international symbol of peace,” Kemp said. “It’s very, very symbolic of the peace.”

Palm Beach Central High School’s Traditions Choir, led by Scott Houchins, will sing during the event.

“I think it will be lovely, and it will be a great opportunity for the community to come together in a time of such anxiety and confrontation to celebrate peace and civility to one another,” Foster said.

For more information about the ceremony, contact Larry Kemp at (561) 333-2770 or larry.kemp@comcast.net.