Gaynor Students Celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2023

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 16 was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and students spent time learning about Dr. King’s philosophy and teaching, important speeches, and his impact on the civil rights movement. The students also discussed their personal connections to his words, and how they can continue to spread his ideas throughout their community. 

In the Early Childhood Division, students in the Hudson and Lexington rooms made signs for their own peaceful march, inspired by Dr. King. The students walked from the South Building to the North Building lobby, holding up their signs with phrases such as “clean our beaches,” “care about your friends,” and “bring people together” that they had decorated with markers, paints, pom-poms, and other craft supplies. The signs were colorful and displayed great messages!

In the Lower School, Librarian Dionne De Lancy has been working with the Yellow Cluster on lessons surrounding Dr. King and the civil rights movement. She told the students about how Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday, and what a federal holiday is. They did a true or false activity with facts about Dr. King, such as if he went to college at 15 (true), and if he had been arrested 12 times (false, he was arrested 29 times!). They also listened to a section of his “I Have a Dream Speech,” and discussed the language that he used in the speech. The students had a lot of questions about Dr. King and his work, and Ms. De Lancy noted that there have been some great discussions during her lessons. 

The Intermediate Division kicked off the month of January in the Intermediate Town Hall focusing on two of MLK’s famous quotes and three of his guiding beliefs: 

  • “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
  • Belief that everyone could make positive change in the world
  • Belief in equity and inclusion
  • Belief in building a better future for all 

Intermediate Division students were then provided a footprint with the quote, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase. Take the first step.” Students are writing one achievable and actionable way they plan to serve, be kind, or inclusive of others this month on the footprint and we’re creating a hallway that demonstrates how we will “walk in Dr. King’s shoes.”

In the Upper Division, students started learning about Dr. King in their Town Hall meeting on January 11. They discussed the reasons for celebrating a holiday that honors the life of a person who dedicated his life to the fight for racial justice and equality, encourages people to serve their communities, and helps us remember that the fight for racial and social justice and equality is ongoing.

Division Director Christine Karamanoglou then went over points from the “I Have a Dream” speech including the structure, the reference to Lincoln, the constitution and the declaration of indepence, “My Country Tis of Thee,” and the use of metaphors. Students then watched a video of the speech and listened for these points. 

Additionally, it is Gaynor Peace Month in Blue Cluster and all students are doing research on Peace Activists or Peace Movements, and will create a poster presentation as their final project. 

In Drama, Blue and Silver Cluster students participated in a lesson about how Dr. King believed in a community where everyone is included. The students answered the questions:

  1. Who is part of your community?
  2. In what ways does your community make you feel beloved?

Drama teacher Meredith Akins then asked students about how they can build a “beloved community.” They answered with suggestions such as:

  1. Being peaceful (essential oils, playing with pets, meditation)
  2. Taking responsibility (saying sorry when we hurt someone)
  3. Showing love (a student brought up the five love languages, and highlighted listening, acts of service, and words of encouragement)
  4. Being fair

The classes then spoke about the difference between being fair and true equity, and that inequality not made right is discrimination. They made connections to how equity is important to our school as a school for those with learning differences, and what supports are fair for our community.

Students generated words describing how someone might feel if they were discriminated against (depressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, invisible, etc). Then they watched Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and generated words from the speech that included “beloved” words and phrases such as brotherhood, freedom, join hands, dream, together, etc. Then students created poses from key words in Dr. King’s speech to then join together and form a “justice tableau.”