Kids recognize King’s human rights message

Posted: August 29, 2013

The Winchester Star

John Kerr Elementary School second-grader Mairene Laureano-Cruz holds a banner containing photos of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of King's March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, students at the school held a march of their own through the school’s hallways. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — John Kerr Elementary School students remembered Martin Luther King Jr. with a schoolwide march Wednesday.

Kerr joined the nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered to an estimated crowd of more than 250,000 people on Aug. 28, 1963. The speech was held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington and at the time was the largest peaceful demonstration in U.S. history.

Wednesday’s schoolwide march was one of many activities and assignments related to King that students at the school — which serves kindergarten through fourth grade — took part in last week and this week. Librarian Kelly Carey put together a number of resources about King and other civil rights leaders that teachers used in their lesson planning.

Third-grader Kingsley Menifee learned two things about King this week.

“That he loves to read,” he said. “And he loves to make speeches.”

Third-grader Carter Gerometta enjoyed creating a poster and signing her name on it as one of the King-related activities.

“He tried to make things fair,” she said of the civil rights leader.

Fourth-grader Mack Morefield learned that King “wanted to let all the black people and white people go to school together,” he said.

Each grade level at Kerr created an “Our Dream” statement and wrote it on a banner that they carried during the walk.

Fourth-graders had a dream for a kind, bully-free community; third-graders had a dream that there would be no more war and hunger; second-graders wished for no more bullying; and first-graders had a dream that no one would go hungry.

“If everybody doesn’t get anything to eat, they’ll be dead,” said first-grader Owen Jett, who was excited to learn about King.

“I learned that he made a speech and that he told everyone to make everybody equal,” he added.

Kindergarten teacher Ashley Staley said even her young students understood the lessons on King and the virtues he extolled.

“They enjoyed the facts they got every morning from Dr. Bryant,” she said, referring to Principal Nan Bryant’s morning announcements. “Some [students] knew who he was, so that made it even better.”

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com