During one session, Middle School students learned the history behind a famous jazz tune and sang “We Shall Overcome” in unison. In another room, they carefully analyzed photographs that documented the integration of U.S. schools.
The rotations were part of a special morning during which students explored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of his birthday and assessed the obstacles that remain in the way of the civil rights leader’s dreams.
“I thought they were really inspiring,” seventh-grader Calvin Murray said of the Jan. 11 workshops. “It’s a great way to teach kids about diversity and how not to exclude people. [King] was a great mentor, and he taught so many great life lessons that help everyone.”
Calvin—a member of the Options class on service learning—and his peers drew inspiration from King’s words as they continued creating outlines for their service learning projects.
In the workshop led by Core teacher Todd Baron, students learned about the landmark Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down segregation in public schools. The engaging lesson followed a discussion about the role of education in society during which students brainstormed ideas across three whiteboards.
“The purpose of education is so you can understand others and so you don’t have to rely on others for your needs,” sixth-grader Mia Story wrote.
In the theater, students learned that John Coltrane’s song “Alabama” was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963.
Students also heard personal stories from longtime P.E. teacher Kevin “KK” Jackson, who grew up in a Venice household that held King—and his ideals—in high esteem.
“Never judge a book by its cover,” he said. “Just try to be a better person tomorrow than you are today.”