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Jefferson students award peace prize this month

Car wash scheduled Saturday to raise funds

Anyone who doubts the rigor at Jefferson High School can look to the 'On Democracy' Senior Inquiry class, a partnership between the high school and Portland State University.

The class this month is organizing the city's second annual PDX Peace Prize, created to recognize a Portland activist or organization working to promote peace, democracy and sustainability in the community.

Co-led by teacher Brady Bennon, who dreamed up the concept while teaching at Portland's Leadership and Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School last year, the 33 students this year have been studying and reading books by Nobel Peace Prize winners. The class is also taught by Jefferson teacher Jennifer Doncan and Michael Lupro of PSU.

The course of study is 'a way of investigating barriers to peace and democracy and analyzing the strategies and tactics used to overcome those barriers,' Bennon says. 'They hope the award causes a positive ripple in our Portland community.'

Next week, students will interview the 20 nominees they've received so far. Nominees come from groups including Ceasefire Oregon, Northwest Earth Institute, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Raphael House, Reach Community Development and Peace and Justice Works.

Later this month, the class will form a consensus decision process for selecting the winner.

Last year's winner was Daniel Garcia of Resolutions Northwest, which brings restorative justice and conflict resolution programs to schools. Garcia visited the class at Jefferson recently to reflect on what the prize meant to him. Also recently, students read the Maathai book, "Unbowed," and planted a tree on campus in his honor.

This year's PDX Peace Prize winner will be announced May 26 at an event at the Ecotrust building. There will be booths from local nonprofits as well as a silent auction, with all proceeds benefiting the prize winner's nonprofit of choice. Students will display the Nobel Peace Prize lesson plans they created and taught, as well as their poetry and essays.

Last year's event drew more than 80 attendees.

Students are holding a car wash Saturday, May 7, to raise money for the PDX Peace Prize event or the winner's organization. The car wash is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Moonstar Parking lot, 7410 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

For more information, to donate or nominate a candidate for the prize, e-mail Bennon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..