Students Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., His Work, and His Legacy

Throughout January, our students at all levels are learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and exploring the values and actions in his work and in the work of those he inspired. Books have been the source of much of the learning! Last week, one early childhood classroom listened to his “I Have a Dream” speech on tape and then made paper cutouts of people holding hands in unity. The students colored their people using different skin tones and then hung the people on their classroom windows for all to see.
Lessons on activism came to life with upper elementary students making posters and writing speeches to advocate for something that is important to them. Some of the topics they chose included the Earth, Climate Change, Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights, Animal Rights, Neurodiversity, and LGBTQIA and Pride.
After reading the books Young Martin Luther King Jr. (by Joanne Mattern) and The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. (by Christine Platt), one early childhood classroom decided they wanted to advocate for change at school in three ways: have different snacks, bring back birthday treats, and be included in elementary celebrations and activities. Another class joined in the efforts, and the teachers explained how to organize a peaceful protest. Both classrooms prepared “applications” to protest, which they presented to the Head of School. Once the protest applications were submitted, the students made posters to express their perspectives artistically, and on Friday afternoon, they staged a peaceful protest walk out.
Our middle school students have been learning about some of Dr. King’s lesser known contemporaries and their work in the Civil Rights Movement. They watched episodes from the documentary Eyes on the Prize (check it out!). In one of the most moving experiences to honor Dr. King, second grade student Eri orated – from memory – one of Dr. King’s last speeches, “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?”, originally given to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia in 1967.  Eri presented this speech in its entirety to the middle school classroom, and then recited an excerpt to both Lower Elementary classrooms. You can watch Eri’s presentation to Middle School here and to Lower Elementary here. Her hard work paid off, and the middle school students complimented her impressive confidence and courage.