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Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King's Life and Legacy

SCASD Students and Faculty Learn About Martin Luther King Jr.;
Honor His Legacy With Lessons, Activities and DiscussionsFaculty and staff panel discussion


More than 240 State College Area School District faculty, staff members and administrators gathered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day not only to eat lunch together, but also to share food for thought.


On Jan. 21, a student holiday and in-service day for teachers, the district held an optional lunch and hour-long panel discussion in the State High cafeteria. Panelists, some of them State High alumni, frankly discussed their experiences with district schools as students and parents of color, noting both highs and lows. Moderator Seria Chatters, the district’s director of equity and inclusivity, also created a Google doc for written responses to questions the panel have time to answer, and then made the page available to the district.


Attendees, as well as all district employees, were invited to view a series of short films by the New York Times that provide perspectives from people of diverse backgrounds.


The panel was among the ways the district is honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy and Black History Month in February through events, activities and lessons that highlight the importance of inclusivity, equality and diversity.


State High

  • The high school held the “More Than a Dream” poetry slam and contest on Jan. 23 in the State High auditorium.
  • The Office of Equity’s Dimensions of Diversity first Book Club Discussion, “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo, will take place Jan. 29, 6:30-8 p.m., in the Mount Nittany Middle School library, and Jan. 30, noon to 1:30 p.m., at the Panorama Village Administrative Center.
  • On Feb. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the school cafeteria, the “Cross-generational Conversations: Guiding Parents and the Community To Connect With Diverse Youth” talk will bring together Centre County youth to help discuss how deeper connections can be fostered across generations to support youth from diverse backgrounds.
  • The Diversity Week Luncheon Series will run Feb. 4-8 in the second floor Large Group Instruction room for students, faculty and staff over their lunch period.
    • Feb. 4, “Overcoming Conversational Chaos in Diversity Dialogues,” Dr. Jason Gines, Director of Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement, Penn State
    • Feb. 5, “The Economics of Housing Insecurity,” Morgan Wasikonis, Executive Director of Housing Transitions
    • Feb. 6, “Sexual & Gender Diversity: Creating & Making Space for LGBTQA+ Communities,” Brian Patchcoski, Director of LGBTQA Student Resource Center, Penn State
    • Feb. 7, “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts: Microaggressions in Everyday Life,” Dr. Seria Chatters, Director of Equity and Inclusivity, SCASD
    • Feb. 8, “How Immigrants Shaped the United States,” Dr. Nalini Krishnankutty, writer and researcher


Delta Program

  • Two students on Delta’s Diversity Committee spoke about MLK Jr. Day at an all-school meeting on Jan. 17.
  • One quoted King from his book “Strength of Love:” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
  • Another said: “Monday is the national day for remembering Martin Luther King Jr., a minister, activist, and civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968.  We remember him as a movement rather than a monument. Even though we do not have school Monday, the diversity committee would like to encourage you to do something to continue his movement.”
  • The girls suggested four ways for celebrating King’s life:
    • “If you have a younger sibling, tell them about him and have a conversation with your family about equality.”
    • “Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.”
    • “Take a moment to appreciate progress towards equality and consider what work still needs to be done.”
    • “Do a random act of kindness!”


Mount Nittany Middle School

  • Social studies classes studied the civil rights movement, discussing Dr. King at great length.
  • The Blue Team sixth-grade blog had an assignment called “I Wish, I Hope, I Dream.” Students watched the “I Have a Dream” speech, then wrote about meaningful wishes, hopes and dreams they have for themselves, their community, and the world. A teacher said “they wrote some very meaningful, powerful responses.” In February, the students will watch the film “The Children’s March,” about the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Ala., and follow up with writing related poetry.
  • At this time of year, one teacher always focuses on the life and story of Cesar Chavez, the Mexican-American activist who started the national farm workers union in the 1970s, inspired by Dr. King to obtain basic rights for farm workers.


Park Forest Middle School

  • The school held Seventh Grade Lock In: Community Service/Community Building Event during the evening of Jan. 18. The purpose of the four-hour event was to honor the legacy of Dr. King by engaging in community service that benefits groups or individuals who may feel or be 'locked out' in some way. Students and faculty, “locked down” from 6 to 10 p.m., began by focusing on the work and legacy of Dr. King. They then collected and made items for various local charities and organizations, participating afterward in ‘in-house’ community building that included games, food, and activities aimed at fostering relationships among students and teachers.
  • Several Cardinal Team students submitted poetry to the MLK poetry contest at Penn State.
  • Sixth-grade ELA teacher Kathleen O’Connell had her students view a portion of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and examine how he commanded attention and convinced listeners of his dream.
  • Sixth-grade science teacher Chris Davis has been “introducing” scientists from diverse backgrounds to students this week at the beginning of class. He has provided this link for students who want to learn about the individuals.
  • Sixth-grade ELA teacher Krista Kellander’s classes read Coretta Scott King’s reflections on the meaning of MLK Jr. Day and watch “The Children’s March.”
  • The seventh- and eighth-grade bands learned the protest anthem “We Shall Overcome,” a key piece used as a rallying cry during the Civil Rights Movement.


Easterly Parkway Elementary

  • During the Annual Helping Hands Fair on Jan. 18, students chose activities where they learn how to give back the community. Activities will benefit local charities and social service agencies.
  • Classroom activities, Jan. 22-25. Most classes read books about King and then engage in discussions. Fifth-grade students will compare books and create displays that connect to several of the books.
  • At a school assembly Jan. 28, students sang and signed songs about King.

Lemont/Houserville Elementary

  • A first-grade class read books about King and created a class collage of a King poster where each student colors a section and the sections are then pieced together.  The class also read a Scholastic News issue dedicated to MLK, as well complete a “I Have A Dream” writing assignment. A discussion will focus on how everyone should be treated equally.
  • Bethany Fedorko’s second-grade class read the Scholastic News text for a reading activity, as well as the book “Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King,” discussing and summarizing the events highlighted and creating a timeline of King’s life. “It always sparks an interesting discussion on fairness and equality, both of which we strive to instill and nurture through the year,” Fedorko said.
    • The class also reviewed prior knowledge of King and viewed the video “A Man Who Changed America” to set the purpose for reading. The post-reading discussion focused on the traits of a hero and how one would describe King’s character.
  • Wendy Wilson’s second-grade class listened to several biographical read-aloud books about King’s life. Students will make a child-appropriate biography booklet that they will be able to read and take home, and also will read about King from the Scholastic News, completing a timeline of his life, tying into a unit with a focus on timelines.
  • Third-grade classes completed a scavenger hunt using resources about King to answer questions about him and his life and accomplishments. Other activities included listening to some of the “I Have a Dream” speech, watching “My Friend Martin” and having a discussion after the video about how it relates to the school’s STAR goals (Show Kindness, Take Responsibility, Act Safely, Respect Everyone). Time permitting, the students will work on creating speeches about the value in each of the STAR goals.
  • Fourth-grade classes analyzed the “I Have A Dream” speech.
  • A fifth-grade class studied the March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech, looking at photos, discussing the purpose of King’s beliefs and causes, reading a portion of the speech and talking about his dream, including whether it’s coming true.


Park Forest Elementary

During Black History Month in February, students will engage in the following:

  • Reading aloud “Harbor Me,” “Amal Unbound” and “Fish in Tree” (fifth grade).
  • Reading 2-3 books each from a pool of 16 diverse titles and reflecting on Dr. King’s accomplishments (fifth grade).
  • Participating in social studies curriculum extensions including a TED Talk on the triangular trading system of slavery, focusing on the perspectives of slaves and reinforcing material learned about in colonial life unit (fifth grade).
  • Writing book proposals to editors of Was/Is Series suggesting titles about African Americans not already featured in the series (joint art/STEM project, fifth grade).
  • Reading “March On,” “Henry’s Freedom Box,” “Step Stomp Stride,” and “Martin’s Big Words” (fourth grade).
  • Watching Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” and writing about their own dreams “for a more peaceful world” (fourth grade).
  • Being pen pals with Virginia kindergarteners, focusing on cultural and regional differences (one fourth-grade class).
  • Creating bookmarks featuring African American inventors, to be distributed at State High (joint art/STEM project, fourth grade).
  • Reading “Who Was George Washington Carver,” “Good as Anybody,” “Henry’s Freedom Box,” “The Story of Ruby Bridges,” “Salt in His Eyes,” “Through My Eyes,” “Roberto Clemente,” “A Nation’s Hope,” “28 Days,” “Voice of Freedom,” “Martin’s Big Words,” “I am Martin Luther King Jr” (third grade).
  • Completing the Martin Luther King Jr. Banner Making poster project to use words to enact change like Dr. King did (third grade).
  • Composing poetry (third grade).
  • Creating bookmarks featuring African American sports figures, to be distributed at State High (joint art/STEM project, third grade)
  • Reading “Martin’s Big Words,” “My Brother Martin,” books about Coretta Scott King and Ruby Bridges and Harriet Tubman, “The Youngest Marcher,” “White Water,” “Almost to Freedom,” “Henry’s Freedom Box,” “Richard’s Library Card,” “I AM Series (Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Dr. King) (second grade).
  • Reading and completing activities with Set Up Epic Collections, with a focus on one African American woman a week (second grade).
  • Writing about selecting individuals, learning songs and composing poetry that is inclusive of the diverse literature being read (second grade).
  • Writing book reviews about various picture books featuring African American characters (second grade).
  • Reading “Somewhere Today,” “My Brother Martin,” and “Martin’s Big Words” (first grade).
  • Role playing scenarios of conflict and friendship (first grade).
  • Writing statements about peace and about own dreams (first grade).
  • Singing freedom/peace songs (“Back of the Bus,” “Oh Freedom!” “We Shall Overcome”) (first grade).
  • Learning about other people and places during geography unit (first grade).
  • Participating in a library browsing lesson focused on looking at as many books featuring African American characters as possible (first grade).
  • Memorizing a nursery rhyme that features African American characters and Black History Month as part of a nursery rhyme unit (kindergarten).


Corl Street

Fifth-graders in Ms. Hooper's class created an picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by combining each student's drawing.

Corl Street students drawing