School Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy With A Day “On”
For the first time, instead of taking the day off, students at Community Day School in Squirrel Hill will be taking on the essential themes of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18 together with the broader Pittsburgh community in a day of learning, service, and reflection.
“I am inspired by the energy, passion, commitment, and hours that our teachers have devoted to making this in-school Martin Luther King Jr. Day experience a rich and meaningful one,” said CDS Head of School Avi Baran Munro. “They have created a transformational program framed by our Jewish values of tzedakah (righteousness), gemilut chasidim (acts of loving kindness), and tikkun olam (repairing the world).”
MLK Day truly will be a day set apart from “business as usual” at CDS, with a social justice curriculum developed in partnership with the Facing History and Ourselves Innovative Schools Network. To outwardly signify the distinctiveness of this day, the school bells will be shut off. All students and faculty will wear T-shirts that read “The time is always right to do what is right” (a quote from Dr. King’s 1964 speech at Oberlin College) on the front and “Ask me about being an upstander!” on the back.
The morning will begin with a prayer service and continue with lessons and activities across all grade levels about the life and times of Dr. King, including a school-wide art project and music performance. Younger students will focus on the role of children in the Civil Rights Movement and understanding how “you don’t have to be a grown-up to make positive change.”
Middle School students will have a discussion of “ground rules” for the day about how to have respectful and productive conversations about race and other challenging topics. They will study lesser-known speeches of Dr. King, and Rabbi Ron Symons, Senior Director of Jewish Life at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, will help facilitate their dialogue.
In the afternoon, Middle School students will travel to the Hill District to attend a panel discussion about what it was like to live in Pittsburgh during the Civil Rights Era and to visit Freedom Corner, the departure point for more than 2,000 Pittsburghers who marched on Washington in support of Dr. King. CDS also will welcome speakers from organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh and Repair the World Pittsburgh.
“In every grade, our students will be engaging with the question of how to live out Dr. King’s dream in Pittsburgh―and in 2016,” said CDS librarian Whitney Philipps, who led the team of educators planning the commemoration. “The day hopefully will serve as a call to action for our students and families in a time when action is sorely needed.”