The Peter Jones Peace Prize

Ayah Anwer, The Friends School

Peace its own prize

The Peter Jones Peace Prize is held annually at Friends’ High School. It’s a writing competition in which students submit poems, reflections, essays or speeches that reflect on what peace means to them.  Each year, there Is a different topic to inspire student writing.

 This writing competition is in honour of Peter Jones because he was a long-serving English and Humanities teacher at Friends’ and, as Karina Churchill, current head of English, says, ‘He is a Quaker who actively ‘lets his life speak” and naming the prize for him, ‘honours his legacy’ as a role model in these areas.

 In 2017, Sarah Walker and Sarah Cupit, then co-heads of the English faculty, arranged this writing prize as a way for Peter Jones’ contribution to the school community to be remembered for years to come.

 The phrase ‘lets his life speak’ gives a sense of all the contributions Peter Jones has made — and continues to make – such as protesting against war and violence. Every single action he takes shows to the people around him that peace is very important to him and to everyone.

 This writing prize supports the culture of student writers outside of allocated class time, encouraging them to develop their voice in writing. It also enables students to more deeply reflect on what peace means to them, to reconnect with their inner self and to think about how they can contribute to making peace and to making a difference. It follows the School values of Peace, Integrity, Community and to live Simply.

 The Peter Jones Peace Prize is welcomed by teachers as well as students because it’s aimed at honouring a respected former staff member and it celebrates, as well as encourages, writing at high school and that is what’s really lovely about writing prizes like this: the sheer sense of community and inner peace.

This article was first published in The Friends’ School student publication, Focus, Issue #109, October 2020. An edited version appears here. The writer, Ayah Anwer, was then in Year 9 at The Friends’ School.

The work that needs to be done – Nadine Frick

The Peter Jones Peace Prize, run annually in the high school, is a chance for students to let their life speak through the words they create. For this year’s theme, Peter Jones chose this quotation from social activist and founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day:

‘No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.’

This year’s adjudication panel highly commended Dihansa Udawatta’s and commended Stella Petheram’s entries for their content and style.

Virginia Jealous, Quaker and writer based in Minang country on the south coast of Western Australia, has entered into a long-term partnership with the School via the PJPP, in which she comments upon the prompt and short-listed entries in any given year.

Virginia identified this year’s prompt as a clear call to action “…and calls to action can be as complicated to put down on paper as they are to ‘live into’, in the real world,” she said, and continued with: “They involve a delicate balance of what I would call ‘the wagging finger’ and ‘the beckoning finger’. The wagging finger can be—often needs to be—forceful and fierce. It uses words like, ‘must’ and ‘should’ and ‘right’ and it can be quite direct and confrontational. The beckoning finger is just as passionate but it’s gentler; it kind of says, ‘come with me’, ‘maybe we could do this’, ‘I wonder if this is possible’. It encourages rather than demands a response. Both ways of writing kind of need to be in balance.”

Virginia described the short-listed entries as examples of “strong and persuasive and individualistic writing” and discussed the power of using and choosing titles (or, indeed, choosing no title) for written work and how this sets the reader up for expectations that are either fulfilled or turned as the writer takes you on a journey from beginning to end of their piece.

“From the very first words the skills of the writers that are in play at the very start of all these pieces is very evident to me,” Virginia said, “How are they going to lead me through the rest of the words? How are the pieces going to end? I’ll leave you to find that out for yourselves.”

Here are those journeys for you to take.

This article was published in The Friends’ School student publication, Focus, Issue #111, November 2021. An edited version appears here. The writer, Nadine Frick, is a teacher of English and Creative Writing at The Friends’ School.

The illustration is a portrait of Peter Jones. Conte and charcoal drawing. Shannon Terry, Year 11 Art Production Student, 2013. Photo: Alice Bowman-Shaw


The Treasury of Pandora’s Pithos

No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless.

The Earth Mother swirls in a ceaseless swift motion, a constant cycle of never ending, never pausing continuity for all of endless eternity.

She never stops moving, twirling, letting anything slow her down or feel the sorrowful emotion of mortals.

Humanity should emulate her lead.

Humanity should not have the right to sit down, wallow, and feel hopeless, for

there is too much work to do.


No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless;

when Pandora opened her doomed jar, unleashing


       and distress

                        and death

                                amongst the mortals,

          the spirit of hope remained,

with the intent of maybe, one day, humanity will be restored to the former paradise it once was.

No one should feel hopelessly despondent,

as humankind shall not rest,

for there is too much work to do.

No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless,

for there is too much work to do.


– Regine Chua (Year 10, The Friends’ School)


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Speckled with embers,

And a crescent looming above.

Shivers creep in those

Who sleep,



Lifeline cut,

Through judgement,

Through scorn,

Through hate,

To isolate.



Through the inky blur,

A stagger around the circle of life.

A revolution which lingers,

Too long.

Grumbles roar in those

Who beg

For life.


Through the dusty haze,

Missiles scream,

Then collide with mustard sand.

The inability to reconcile,

To compromise,

Denies, divides, destroys.

The light dims

In those

Who survive.



When the devil rages,

When the door closes,

When the world keeps spinning

And you want to crumble.



The darkness

Of hatred,

The abyss

Of apathy.



Be brave to hope,

Spread love to create change.


There is light

At the end.

We just have to see it,

To be it.


– Dihansa Udawatta (Year 8, The Friends’ School)

Dear 2075 

Dear 2075, I don’t think we are going to survive


Our planet is burning because we lit the match,
And now that it is out of control we can’t take it back

But it’s too late, we can’t undo what has already been done

Instead, we can fix the problems that have previously begun


Dear 2075, I don’t think we are going to survive


Icebergs are melting causing sea levels to rise and countless animals to die

But nobody seems to care

Just picture a once happy and healthy, now sad and skinny polar bear

These bears’ homes have now disappeared making life incredibly hard

But nobody seems to care as these problems are just left in disregard


Our future is stolen are we are the thieves.

Building more factories, newly cleared spaces

Just leaves us with more and more traces

Of fumes that destroy things that once brought us joy


If you want your future child to be able to experience the things we do today

We need to do something about climate change

I don’t understand why this issue is such a debate

We must act now before it’s too late


Dear 2075, I don’t think we are going to survive



– Emily Rawson (Year 9, The Friends’ School)


 We’re all at crossroads at some point,
Deciding where to move.
Calculating choices on a chessboard,
Moving later not soon,

We have to choose,
“High or low?”
“Queen or rook?”
This choice is important,
It could move you forward,
Or make you dormant.

The high road seems narrow,
The low road seems harrowed
It’s difficult to see right or wrong.
Is there even a choice?
Picking between two poisons of different colours?

“Bad things happen when good people do nothing.”
Are we really doing something?
Are we fighting or blinding ourselves from the gunfire?
The sound is not in our country,
But it’s in our world.
Yet we choose not to hear,
We know the truth.
But we choose not to speak.

We can’t keep giving into our fear of choices.
That if we choose wrong,
It could corner us.

We can’t just keep covering our eyes,
We have to fight.
We can’t keep living in a technicolour lie.
We need to choose.
To see bitter, battered reality.
It isn’t pretty,
It’s the truth.

– Rebekah Ismail-Arnold (Year 9, The Friends’ School)



The Cry of the Currawongs 


The moss sinks underfoot
Two footprints sound
Overhead the tops of the trees sway and dip like a kite in the wind
The great expanse of sky, clouds running across it like skittish skinks
The stream gurgles through a gap between two mossy boulders
The lichen rough

The ripples of currawong cry linger
Upon the untouched air

Massive old eucalyptuses stand
Wiser than any philosophers in history books
Their scarred trunks tell of hard times
Of success

The ripples of currawong cry linger
Upon the untouched air

Years pass, the forest changed
People everywhere
Travelling from faraway lands
Drinking from plastic straws, eating from gold plates
Not caring about the sound of the wind through trees
The taste of rainforest on skin

The currawong no longer cries
Old trees are ash on the ground

Unable to share their wisdom ever again

The concrete is hard underfoot
Two footprints sound

Overhead the great buildings are cold against the sky
A concrete path rushes through a gap between two mossy boulders
Plastic art smooth

Memories fade with the cry of the currawongs

– Stella Petheram (Year 9, The Friends’ School)


We live in an age of wonder . . .

We live in an age of wonder, fascination and newness. This is a world where anything is possible, particularly with collaboration. A world where humanity can prevail. And yet, all around us, we see unrest, disruptions and sorrow. 356 million children live in extreme poverty. More than 1 in 10 people across the world have a registered mental illness. We are constantly pressured to be more than we are, told we must be rich, popular, smart, athletic, funny and beautiful. It is impossible to live in the world we want. The world is falling apart around us.

We must make change. It is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that every person has the opportunity to thrive.

And how do we respond to the challenges our world is facing? We blame others. We take to the streets or write social media posts that critics others for the poor world we live in. Racism is only present in the police force and royal family. Climate change is an issue for major businesses. COVID-19 is all governments’ fault. Food wastage is down to supermarkets. Educational issues are the responsibility of African governments. Nothing is my fault. That is the attitude that so many of us will take. But blaming others helps no one. If everyone believes that it is someone else’s responsibility, no one will ever take action.

We need to take matters into our own hands and act to make meaningful change. If we don’t take responsibility, who will? It is time that each of us steps up to do what is right. So often we see people bragging about what they are doing. But kindness should be more than a bragging point. People, real people, are struggling or having their lives torn apart. This is not about the helpers, but about the help. The Religious Society of Friends recommends that you ‘let your life speak’. So few people do this. But this is how we can bring about meaningful change. Letting who we are guide our actions and our actions guide how people see us. Prioritising a culture of community, trust, charity and help will make our world a better place. Helping others should not be seen as a great deed. It should be seen as a common action, one that shows our true values and is an indispensable part of society.

We need to learn to open our eyes and see the world in front of us for what it truly is. So often, we only see the outer layer, what we are shown. We see what we are told to see. And this means that we never truly feel others’ pain, that we do not learn to think about others, and, when things go wrong in our own lives, we feel alone. We learn about issues only when the media makes them a front-page story. And then we never stop to think about how this applies to our backyard. When the Black Lives Matter protests spread across the USA, many Australians sympathised with their cause. We fought for the people of colour living in America. We considered the tragic deaths in custody of Aboriginal Australians. But we forget to think about how we can play a part. We forgot to think about the disadvantaged Indigenous children struggling to afford school, the many young adults who faced discrimination when searching for a job. We took to the streets to campaign for those whose stories are highlighted in the media. And we continued about our daily lives as though this change could not be made in our backyard.

Change is necessary. And many changes can only be made in Parliament, or inside a big business, or in another country. But there are so many positive changes that we can make, in our households, schools, workplaces, communities and our own lives, that can have a profound impact on someone’s life. We need to stop pushing the responsibility onto others and work to make meaningful change ourselves. If we cannot change, how can we expect others to? Change is like a tightrope. It is uncertain, scary and always in the spotlight. If no one small is willing to take even the first step, how can someone more powerful ever be brave enough to walk across?

There are ways to have a positive impact on someone’s life. But one of the best things that we can do to support others is to create a community that supports them. Many people underestimate the power of a positive culture. But sometimes someone does need to step up and fight for change larger than themselves. They cannot do this without support. We need to support people to make change and be the best people they can. Currently, we place so much pressure on people to be perfect, to fit in, to not make waves. We need to create a different culture, one of kindness, love, trust, hope and belonging.

To change the way that our world works, we first need to change the way our communities work. No one can create change if they are too scared of the changes in the way people see them. If we imply that we don’t care about each other, how can anyone stand up for someone that they don’t even know? We regularly ask for change or consider what needs to be done. However, we are usually too afraid to make change. But we cannot keep sitting around, doing nothing. There are many things that need to change. And most of these changes are in our attitudes. It is time that we change the way that we interact and send out a more positive message to those around us.

If we cannot change the way we look at others, how can we expect anything to change?

– Isabel Adams (Year 8, The Friends’ School)


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