Students and teachers spent the week before the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend honoring the life and work of the great civil rights leader. From Pre-K to Grade 9, classrooms were filled with King’s inspiring words and actions as the Shore community reflected on themes of protest and resistance, love and kindness, and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.
In Pre-K, teachers Beth White and Tracy Keith shared the book My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart, and had students create illustrations depicting their answers to the question, “What can we do to help everyone be friends?” Kindergartners were excited to watch excerpts from King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered in 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They then wrote about and illustrated their own hopes for a more just future. And in first grade, children worked on pages for a book inspired by King’s words: taking his most famous speech as a jumping-off point, they wrote and drew about their own dreams for a peaceful and equitable future.
Older students, too, took time to consider King’s continuing relevance. Fifth graders read excerpts from King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which he wrote after being imprisoned for taking part in nonviolent protests against racism and segregation in the South. The students then collaborated in discussion to dig into the meaning of the important text, which puts forward the idea that individuals have a moral obligation to take direct action against injustice. And in their history and English classes, ninth graders traced the history of the American civil rights movement through an interdisciplinary project.
To conclude the week, students and teachers participated in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. assembly in the Trustey Family Theatre, during which several speakers shared their thoughts about King’s legacy. “Although our country is no longer segregated,” said seventh grader Lam Pham, “that does not mean that we live without discrimination. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is yet to be fulfilled.” Sixth grader Rocco Fawcett echoed, “65 years later, we are still fighting to achieve King’s dream. In the next 65 years, I hope it becomes more than a dream; I hope it becomes a reality.” Said sixth grader Isabella Racho, “If we all work to be more like Dr. King, even if it is in small ways, it will still make a difference. Helping out your community and family will inspire others and create change just like Martin Luther King Jr. did.” “To continuing honoring Martin Luther King Jr.,” concluded sixth grader Claire Fisher, “I think that instead of just having an assembly about him, we should continue to read his work and create new work about him.”
Head of Lower School Sara Knox and Head of Upper School Gustavo Carrera each took their turn at the podium. Knox spoke about Lynda Blackmon Lowery, who at 15 was the youngest participant in the historic 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, led by Martin Luther King Jr. Lowery’s advice to young people, said Knox, was, “If you see something that you think is wrong, and it bothers you, then with steady, loving confrontation you can get others to see the wrong in whatever it is that you see.” According to Carrera, “Dr. King stands out as a powerful beacon of character who promotes human dignity, challenging us all to imagine the full humanity of every human being and develop a society that protects, fosters, and honors the humanity in each individual.”