‘Parkrose Community Peace Labyrinth’ celebrates first year

Come out and see what they’ve done – even better, decorate a rock to make your mark on this unique Parkrose attraction, located at the high school …

Sharon DeWitt, groundskeeper at Parkrose High School, watches as students help prepare the path and lay pavers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
To some, a labyrinth is a large-scale puzzle game. But to Sharon DeWitt, Parkrose High School’s groundskeeper, the “Parkrose Community Peace Labyrinth” which she inspired is much more.

“In our busy world,” explains DeWitt, “everyone is on-the-run, especially students and staff members here at the high school. In the 15 minutes it takes to slowly walk the labyrinth, people can slow down and take some time for themselves.”

This specific design used is a replica of the World Peace Labyrinth, DeWitt tells us. “That labyrinth was painted on canvas, and unveiled at the Olympic Games, in Salt Lake City, in 2002. All of the athletes, coaches, and fans had the opportunity to walk the labyrinth. Now that labyrinth is traveling the world to all the countries that part in the Olympics.”

A few weeks ago, students helped out placing the pavers along the labyrinth’s path.

Celebrating one year on April 19
They started building this labyrinth on Earth Day, in April, 2007 says DeWitt. “We’re taking an unused portion of the high school property and making something that will invite neighbors onto our grounds. We’re giving the community something simple to enjoy.”

Since then, through the work of about 200 of volunteers, plus thousands of hours of labor, the serpentine path is clearly taking shape.

“We’ll be celebrating the labyrinth’s first year starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 19,” DeWitt informs us. “It’s not a work party; it is a rock painting party. We’re asking everyone to come by and decorate at least one of the hundreds of rocks we pick-axed out of the ground, using paint Metro has donated. These rocks will decorate the path.”

DeWitt adds, “I hope that, by decorating a rock, neighbors, friends, and students will gain a sense of ownership and connectedness with the project, with the school, and with the labyrinth.”

About 200 volunteers have worked on the project during the last year. Come see what they’re up to!

New gate marks the spot
When you visit – it’s located at the southwest corner of the lot on NE Shaver Street, a long block west of NE 122nd Avenue, you’ll be welcomed by a new gate marking the entrance to the labyrinth.

DeWitt thanks East Portland Neighbors, Inc. for the grant that provided the seed money to start the project. “This grant legitimized and validated project and got it going. It helped us secure a grant from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education.”

To volunteer, or for more information, e-mail sharondewitt@parkrose.k12.or.us.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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