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Northville students reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, legacy

Students from Northville’s Silver Springs Elementary School had the opportunity earlier this week to learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy during a fun and meaningful interactive presentation by puppeteer Richard Paul focused on promoting respect and understanding for all people. The school-wide assembly is being followed by grade-level and classroom activities reinforcing Dr. King’s messages of peace, equality and service to others.

This is just one of the many ways Northville Public Schools students from kindergarten through high school are honoring Dr. King’s contributions to the world and the Civil Rights Movement this week as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day holiday on January 16, 2017. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is a day off from school for Northville Public Schools students and a work day for the district’s teachers, administrators and staff. District-wide themes for this year’s student activities and initiatives are the Dr. King quotes:

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well.” 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.

Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

In classrooms across Northville’s 10 school buildings, students are taking time this week to reflect on Dr. King’s messages of peaceful problem solving and strengthening communities through service with teacher-led activities that offer a range of experiences aligned with curriculum standards that include book talks; reading and listening to selected Dr. King speeches; writing reflections; making flip books; creating art projects; sharing poetry and music; and classroom discussions about the impact of Dr. King’s messages on our world.

Along with classroom lessons, several buildings also have school-wide and grade-level activities planned to reinforce Dr. King’s vision for our country and our world. At Moraine and Silver Springs elementary schools, students are relating Dr. King’s work to the principles of the 7 Habits and The Leader in Me. Winchester Elementary School students are honoring Dr. King by performing random acts of kindness and creating a paper chain to display in the school’s hallways with the acts of kindness written on them. Meads Mill Middle School students are reading excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches during the morning announcements throughout the week. Meads Mill sixth graders are viewing the documentary Mighty Times: The Children’s March (about the Birmingham, Alabama, civil rights marches) and then using footprint templates to share their ideas for promoting social change. The footprints will be displayed throughout the school. This week, eighth grade English Language Arts students at Meads Mill are discussing ways students can resolve conflicts without resorting to violence. Students are reading the short-story The Power of Nonviolence, which focuses on the lunch counter sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement.

 At Northville High School, Principal Tony Koski is sharing examples of Dr. King’s positive impact on our world via the school-wide announcement system, with students reading important Dr. King quotes submitted by seminar classes and selected by the school’s Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) Committee. In addition, all NHS social studies classes are exploring the contributions of Dr. King and English classes are writing journal entries reflecting on Dr. King quotes. The NHS music department is playing and singing songs about freedom, along with spirituals. In NHS teacher Chris Ford’s Civics classes a course requirement that students serve five hours with a non-profit organization (or attend two political events) fosters Dr. King’s legacy of service to others. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is the deadline for completing the requirement, offering an opportunity for meaningful classroom discussion and sharing.

Students at the district’s special education center program at Cooke School are creating a colorful wreath made from their hand prints that include a picture or writing that shows how Cooke students are making the world great. Many classes are also watching the video, An MLK Tribute, created by Cooke teacher Dan Solomon and his students. Cooke students also are reading books about Dr. King using YouTube, crafting art projects that depict what Dr. King accomplished, and working together to make cookies.

“These activities that our students and staff take part in focused on Dr. King’s legacy, go hand-in-hand with Northville Public Schools’ vision for all Northville students to become compassionate, quality contributors in our global society,” said Northville Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Deanna Barash. “In light of recent events in our country and around the world, it is more important than ever that our community and our schools take the time to reflect on the principles Dr. King modeled during his life of unity, acceptance, nonviolence, peaceful protest, and service to others.

While it is appropriate to reflect on the importance of service to others by honoring Dr. King’s powerful messages, Northville students from across the district take part in a robust network of service learning and community services experiences throughout the school year, including the Kids Against Hunger and Kids Helping Kids initiatives each year. The food packing events bring together elementary school students from Northville and inner-city Detroit to work side-by-side to learn more about world hunger, and, more importantly, do something about it. The opportunity for students to take part in these experiences is made possible through the generous support of local business and community sponsors, together with grant funds, contributions by school families, and the fundraising efforts of students.

“The meaningful ways in which students, teachers and staff have given thought to the principles taught by Dr. King are important,” said Northville Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher. “It is our hope that these experiences will resonate with our students beyond this one day and beyond their classrooms, and serve as a reminder to all of us in the Northville community that the journey toward greater understanding and respect for one another is both ongoing and worthwhile.”