2016 MLK Day of Service at Rectory

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Video created by Yitong W., Rose F., and Tianshu W. of Rectory School

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Martin Luther King (MLK) Day is an American federal holiday which honors the birthday of the civil rights leader who resoundingly opposed racial discrimination and who proposed change via peaceful means.

The movement to honor MLK with a holiday started soon after King’s assassination in 1968.  Some states refused to celebrate this day when it was first observed in 1971. However, finally, in the year 2000, Martin Luther King Day was officially observed in all 50 U.S. states. The holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to MLK’s January 15th birthday.

Each year on MLK Day most schools and business offices are closed, but some may choose to stay open for various reasons. At Rectory School all of our students participate in community service projects on MLK Day to honor Martin Luther King’s legacy of service to others. Students participate in various on- and off-campus activities, alongside their teachers. Some visit nursing homes to visit with the elderly and entertain them by singing and playing musical instruments. Some students work outside to clear trails or build bridges in state and local parks, and some make blankets and deliver them to the elderly and poor in the area. Still others bake and cook meals for local families in need or decorate cupcakes that will be delivered to local food pantries.

Mr. Williams said that he thinks the Martin Luther King Day of Service is one of the most important events on the Rectory  School campus because it teaches us the necessity of helping others. “To help others in our community is what the MLK Day Holiday is all about. As Dr. King did in his own life, we must put time aside to help others and not just think about ourselves.”

At the morning assembly, ninth-grade student Olivia M.E. gave an eye-opening speech about her adopted fathers. She spoke of their struggles for equality within society, which still sometimes judges them harshly and unfairly. Olivia revealed her genuine love, kindness, maturity, and open-mindedness, when she spoke of how brave her parents are and how much love they have given her. It was obvious from her speech how much goodness is in Olivia’s family, and we all cheered and applauded when she finished her heartfelt speech. Honestly, many of us also had tears in our eyes, which is a testament to Olivia’s courage and her excellent speaking skills.

The guest speaker for the afternoon was Mr. William Kamkwamba, author of “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” which is a book that all the Rectory middle school students had to read last summer. Mr. Kamkwamba is from Malawi, a poor country that has faced famine and drought, resulting in much poverty. Mr. Kamkwamba had to leave school at a young age to work and help support his family; his dreams of completing his education were interrupted, but not his ambition and his ingenuity. He used textbooks about electricity to build a windmill that brought electricity and water to his community, and his book is the story of his journey. When he spoke to the students at Rectory, he inspired them with his determination, and he left us all with the message of hope that he included in his book; never underestimate the power of one individual to help change and improve his own life and the life of those around him. He told the students, “If you work hard and don’t give up, even in the face of adversity, you can accomplish more than you ever dreamed!”

The DiRectory interviewed Rectory students and teachers to ask them what services they performed on MLK Day this year. Watch the attached video to hear their responses and learn how they impacted their local community in honor of a great leader. More importantly, always remember what Martin Luther King himself said, “What have you done for others today?” THAT is the TRUE meaning of the MLK Day holiday!

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