A sign by the paper chain explains what it represents. “Each link of our chain represents a hand. Dr. King joined hands with all people of every color when he marched for freedom. Every link has a pledge by students of how we can make our school, community or world a better place. We pledge to be good humans and promote peace.”
Across the hallway from the library an “I Have a Dream...” display showcases student dreams. One student wrote, “I have a dream that people would follow the Golden Rule.” Another said, “I have a dream that people will donate food and water.”
It’s a similar scene at the middle school where cards filled with dreams are posted near the library. Seventh-grader Landen England shared his dream. “People in the world today are less caring. I just want people to be more caring to everyone.”
Middle school classmate Mackenzie Chapin –Dyer said it’s important to remember we are not all the same. “We have to celebrate our differences and be kind to everyone. We’re all the same – but different too.”
Another student wrote, “My dream is that people won’t be judged for the color of their skin.” A similar message read, “My dream for our world is that we don’t discriminate against others for what they believe, who they support, or for the color of their skin. My dream is that the world opens its eyes and changes for the better and doesn’t resort to violence and hate.”
Seventh-grade history teacher Sam Wilkinson engaged students in conversation about segregation and discrimination after watching videos of the Selma march and King’s movement. “This is an enduring message. It’s a timeless lesson in replacing hate with love and making a positive difference and knowing it is possible,” said Wilkinson
Wilkinson acknowledged changing the world or even your community may seem a daunting task. “You don’t have to save the world. Just start by loving the people you’re with and the people you’re around,” he said.
Some students focused on what’s happening right now in their world. “I have a dream that Coronavirus will be put to an end.”
Martin Luther King’s message of hope, peace and equality was shared throughout the district with each school providing age-appropriate discussion and activities. In addition to dreaming of a better world, elementary students are also remembering MLK Day with service to others. All Lee Elementary classrooms will have the opportunity to decorate plain brown paper lunch bags for Kids Food Basket.
Third-graders in Brian Hanna’s class watched videos from Kid President about MLK Day and talked about their dreams and how they could help make them come true. “I want to help the wild pandas so they don’t go extinct and their numbers will grow,” said Anika Slomp.
Third-grade classmate Zoe Colby also wants to take care of animals. “My dream is to help animals all over,” she said.
Lilly Bronsink, another third-grader, wants to help people who have cancer. “I want to find ways to help them pay for their surgeries and medicine,” she said.
Classmate Owen Tietz said he wants to help the homeless. “I want them to have enough water to drink, food to eat and a place to live,” he said.
From history and English classes, elementary grades to high school, students throughout the TK district focused attention Monday on dreaming of a better world and how they could help.
Middle school band students realized the lyrics of a popular song were talking about Martin Luther King Jr. and others like him who died in the name of love. Students analyzed the lyrics of “Pride in the Name of Love” by U2 .
“Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
In the name of love
What more in the name of love?”
“Martin Luther King Jr. understood that violence would overshadow his real message and that violence would get him nowhere,” said TKMS band director Mark Hagemann. “He knew if you use violence to try and achieve a goal, you’ll ruin it and people will only remember the violence.”
Hagemann said it’s important for students to see what’s happening in the world today and know what’s happened in the past. “These kids today are growing up in a time filled with tensions and they have to navigate through it now. They have to understand violence is not the answer. It’s just as valid now as ever.”