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Portledge in the Now.

Portledge Students Honor Dr. King

by Traci Douglas
The week of January 8th, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we held celebrations of Dr. King's life across all divisions.  
What happens when student leadership and school culture intersect? At Portledge, our student leaders drive our school culture, and they do so through special presentations that raise awareness and build community while exemplifying our Portledge pillars and DEI principles. The week of January 8th, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we held celebrations of Dr. King's life across all divisions.  
 
At the lower school, the theme of our assembly was peacemakers. We explored the importance of peace and conflict resolution in 3rd grade, we identified ways to change the world for the better in 4th grade, and we learned about the difference between equality and equity and the need for both in 5th grade. Our student presenters in grades 3-5 led an assembly where they educated their younger peers and modeled leadership.
 
Sixth-grade students in Mrs. Douglas's Perspectives 6 class presented essays that they wrote analyzing famous quotes from Dr. King's I Have A Dream speech. In front of their middle school peers, they shared how Dr. King's words of courage, justice, and peace resonated with them and exemplified leadership while showcasing their developing public speaking skills.  
 
Members of our Black Student Union (BSU) led an informative and engaging presentation about various trailblazers of the Civil Rights Movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr., at their weekly upper school town meeting. BSU's President, Joie Jean-Paul, '25, opened the celebration with the following quote:
 
“There is nothing greater in all the world than freedom. It’s worth going to jail for. It’s worth losing a job for. It's worth dying for. My friends, go out this evening determined to achieve this freedom which God wants for all of his children.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
This set the tone for the event. Joie then shared highlights of Dr. King's leadership and ended with the following, "Even though it's great to have a three-day weekend, it's also important to reflect and remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the legacy that he has left behind. I hope that you learn something new from today’s presentation."

S
tudents gained new information and inspiration through the presentations of civil rights activists like James Baldwin, Alice Walker, A. Phillip Randolph, and Ruby Bridges and through the Select Chorus's rendition of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A’Changin" and "Rise Up" by Andra Day. Through their melodic voices and song choices, the Select Chorus further highlighted the tenets of perseverance and resilience, which embody Dr. King's enduring message of freedom for all.
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