This year, King School observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with programming that explored the principles that build and strengthen a community.
“Our youngest students learned about the importance of being an upstander and a good friend, while our older students deeply examined King School’s commitment to diversity as an essential element in the school's goal to prepare students to be true citizens of the world. Our entire student body was engaged in this work,” said King’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Clyde Beverly.
Beverly recognized Dr.King as a “transformative leader, change agent, and champion for justice.”
Grade 4 Representative Alex Brown delivered an overview of Dr.King’s life during a Lower School assembly on January 14. Alex began his presentation by asking students to raise their hands if they had ever heard of Martin Luther King Jr. A sea of hands were raised in response, as the students had been reading books and learning about Dr.King in classrooms and at the lower school library in the week leading up to the assembly.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started out as a kid, like you and me, who saw a problem and worked hard to learn how to try to fix it,” said Alex. “[Martin Luther King] marched hand and hand with so many people to fight for equality,” Alex added.
The presentation culminated with an overview of another change-maker, Amanda Gorman, by Student Council Vice President Jordyn Rivera ’29, and with a division-wide discussion on how to be a good friend, led by Student Council’s Outreach Ambassador Adria Mallette ’29.
In the Middle School, students learned about the works of Dr. King in their extended advisory lessons. A presentation shared with each class throughout the division highlighted his life, notable accomplishments, and powerful quotes that reflect his strength as a public speaker and activist. The students discussed the quotes that stood out to them the most and then chose their favorites as an advisory group to post in a shared MLK Padlet.
For his class, history teacher George Lewis played a video of Dr.King’s last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
“As an orator, few people in modern history have been able to summon as much emotion, heartache, righteous anger, and hope into their speeches as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watching and listening to him speak is a totally different experience than reading his speeches,” said Lewis.
The experience deepened for new students in the Upper School, who played “Factuality,” a game and virtual crash course that simulates inequality by using dialogue facilitated by its founder, guest speaker Natalie Gillard. “The purpose of this experience is to think about how these issues impact all of us, even if it’s in an indirect way,” said Gillard.
The participants were asked to create a list of items most important to them. Based on the traits of the characters they chose, the students experienced losses and gains in those items to illustrate structural inequalities such as pay gaps, discriminations, and disparities. “The losses basically made me feel like I was also losing a part of my identity,” said Olivia Rodrigues ’25, who participated in “Factuality” for the first time.
Other upper school students participated in a rotating schedule of activities designed to educate them on the impacts of inequality. The students watched a documentary about America before and after the Emancipation Proclamation, played a card game that simulated structural inequality, and hosted student-led discussions on diversity at King.
The school’s diversity statement notes that “by honoring cultural differences and intellectual diversity, [King] creates a vibrant learning community where each person is valued.” King continues to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion as a pillar of the school’s Strategic Plan.
“Dr. King believed that ‘intelligence plus character is the true goal of education.’ This is why it is important to recognize Dr. King and other change-makers in school today,” said Dr. Beverely. “If we are to truly live up to our mission of preparing our students to become citizens of the world, it is imperative that we acknowledge the significant contributions of Dr. King and other change agents throughout history. The responsibility is on us to continue this work until his dream is truly fulfilled.”