Lower and Intermediate School students gathered this week for a shared look at the people who inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work, as well as those people who have continued to carry his message of peaceful resistance to the present day.
Fourth grade students took to the stage to share what they had learned from a recent close reading and examination of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. After showing a short video of Dr. King delivering some of his remarks, students read individual quotes from the speech and elaborated upon the meaning of the text and connected it to modern day artifacts associated with Dr. King’s life. For example, after sharing the words “This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” another student spoke to the modern-day Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC and how it was a tangible stone of hope hewn from rock. Students also noted the use of repetition in Dr. King’s famous remarks and how this literary device helped to make his words even more memorable.
Next, 4th grade students introduced the concept of precepts, or “rules for really important things that can help guide us” and provided a range of examples from historic and modern thinkers from around the globe. The students recited the words of Sappho, Gandhi, the Dalai Llama, Mother Theresa and others—some in their original language.
Third grade students produced a video that was used for transition sequences during this Morning Ex wherein individual students took turns sharing how they intend to follow in Dr. King’s path and be the change they wish to see in the world. Students spoke to their intentions to waste less food, conserve more water, stop polluting the earth, stop hurting their siblings and a host of other ideas they had for how they personally could make the world a better place.
Student vocalists in the Colonel Choir then joined director and Music teacher Rob Denien on stage for a moving performance of Carole King’s “Beautiful.” Next, all Lower and Intermediate School music teachers took to the stage and led all in attendance in a group singalong of Pete Seeger’s 1963 song “If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus” which became one of the anthems for the civil rights movement.
Through this reflection on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. our youngest students were reminded that we all have the power to live up to Gandhi’s precept, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”