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GROTON — It has taken eight years, 188 Bookmakers and Dreamers Club members, numerous parent volunteers, generous community volunteers, multiple high-tech companies, the involvement of college students and faculty, the support of the Groton-Dunstable Middle School principal and faculty colleagues, the contributions of citizens from all over the world, and the energy, motivation, commitment and incredible perseverance of one wild and crazy club adviser Betsy Sawyer. The “it” is the designing, construction, printing and binding of the 10 by 12 foot Big Book: Pages for Peace, and the book has finally come to life.

On Tuesday May 22, the Groton-Dunstable Middle School community was honored with the first look at the Big Book, which was unveiled in its full size on the stage of the Performing Arts Center.

In a celebration comprised of guest speakers such as state Rep. Niki Tsongas, the director of the Sherborn Peace Abbey, Lewis Randa, and members of the 9/11 FealGood Foundation, augmented by the exquisite voices of the award-winning Groton-Dunstable High School Chamber Choir, enhanced by the inspirational story of the students, and made humorous by the attendance of an iRobot delivering a club T-shirt to Betsy Sawyer, the Big Book was revealed for the first time.

Opening the morning’s program, Congresswoman Tsongas said, “I am proud to represent these students, parents, teachers, high-tech New England companies and this community where innovation and aspiration go together.” What Tsongas was referring to was the teamwork of many who have helped the students’ dream come true. The story is truly extraordinary.

Since 2004, the club members have received more than 3,000 letters, poems, songs and artwork from students, teachers, families, veterans, refugees, politicians, dignitaries and 9/11 first responders and their families. Several Nobel laureates, including former President Jimmy Carter, the 14th Dalai Lama, and Helen Caldecott have responded as well as former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sen. John Kerry, Tsongas and celebrities such as folk singer Pete Seeger and skateboarder Tony Hawk. Students involved in the project have been invited to the U.N. every year since 2008 to tell the story of their remarkable project as part of the annual International Day of Peace celebration.

The June 2 celebration will include recognition of the students involved in the project as well as the corporate and educational partners that have provided financial and technical support for the project. Speakers include 9/11 first responder John Feal and members of the FealGood Foundation of New York, an advocacy group for 9/11 first responders and their families, longtime supporters of the project.

Also speaking will be Ted Reinstein, correspondent for Boston’s WCVB’s highly awarded, long running news show “Chronicle.” Speaking on behalf of corporate partners of the Big Book will be Groton resident Bart Kulesz, vice president of customer service at EFI Inkjet Solutions of Meredith, N.H. EFI has provided technical expertise for the project over the last five years and has donated all of the ink for the giant book.

Additional corporate sponsors to be recognized include DuPont of Wilmington, Del., which donated more 4,000 yards of Tyvek printing media and Material Concepts of Philadelphia, DuPont’s major distributor for Tyvek. Material Concepts cut the nearly 3-mile long roll into 15 more manageable, smaller rolls, packed and shipped them to UniGraphic Inc. of Woburn, one of New England’s leading printing companies.

UniGraphic agreed to print the book using their newest grand format printer. The 3.2 meter-wide LED printer contains no VOCs, uses less consumables, produces less waste, uses less energy and has the ability to print on recycled and other materials. This means that production of the Big Book is a “greener” process today than it was when it started nearly eight years ago.

Printing an anthology of this magnitude is an extremely complex task involving multiple steps. Organizing all of those submissions of letters, poetry and artwork that have been sent to Groton for inclusion in the book over the last seven years has required a team of volunteers devoted specifically to each step.

As each submission was received, it had to be coded and matched with a waiver that was required in order to be included in the book. As the coding, matching and filing of the submissions and waivers was being completed, a second team comprised of club members began scanning all of those submissions while a third team grouped submissions into similar categories and chapters such as students, veterans and community leaders.

Once the teams completed those organizational processes, pages were ready for design by award-winning North Scituate book designer Joan Paley. She is donating her talent to the project, which has required hundreds of hours of graphic design work over the past two years. Joan Paley will be also be lauded at the June 2 event.

A fourth team has been formed in Groton that will be constructing a display stand for the super-sized book so that it can be shown at the June 2 event, as well as at a student assembly that was held on May 22. That team has also devised a system for cutting and organizing pages into book form as they are received from UniGraphic.

Once the book itself is completed, the club wants to move forward with its final goal of displaying it in museums for other children to see. Fruitlands Museum in Harvard has volunteered to display the book locally and President Jimmy Carter has offered to display it in his presidential library in Georgia. A key part of its museum display is to develop an automated page turner so that the public can actually see the individual pages of the book turning.

A quarter-size prototype page turner had originally been developed for the project by engineering students at UMass Lowell. Two of those engineering students, Mike Gagnon and Kierston Lemoine, are currently professional engineers in the corporate world and are now married to each other. They have joined with other volunteer engineers from several world-renowned, high-tech New England companies to develop and fabricate a full-size page turner. Plans for the full-size page turner will also be shown during the June 2 event. Local robotics manufacturer iRobot of Bedford will also be bringing a PacBot to the event, to assist with the dramatic unveiling of the biggest book in the world about peace.

Also being recognized that day are major fundraisers and Groton residents Ebi and Desiree Masalehdan, who produced last year’s World Music for World Peace Festival to benefit the Big Book and local corporate financial supporter Bemis Associates of Shirley, a manufacturer of thermoplastic adhesives and specialty films.

As the names of the volunteers were introduced during the program, Sawyer emotionally stated, “We couldn’t have done this without the help of so many of you,” including her family members and her husband, Charlie Sawyer, whom she called, “My everything!”

The public is invited to attend a celebration with the book on display at the Groton-Dunstable Performing Arts Center on Saturday, June 2 at 11 a.m. This celebration has been funded by a grant through the Groton-Dunstable Education Foundation.

For information regarding the Big Book: Pages for Peace Project, visit www.pagesforpeace.org and become a fan on Facebook @ Big Book: Pages for Peace Foundation or follow the group on Twitter.

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