January 16 marked the 18th year that West Chester and Liberty townships, in conjunction with the Lakota Local School District, hosted opportunities for the entire community to join together in the Live the Dream: Our Declaration of Unity commemoration of Martin Luther King Day.
The day’s activities started with a “March for Unity,” followed by a free lunch donated by local restaurants held at the Lakota West High School cafeteria and featuring performance by the Lakota West jazz combo. After the lunch, a community program was held, with Aisha Moore as discussion facilitator and Dr. Monique Johnson serving as keynote speaker. Moore is a Lakota teacher on special assignment and Johnson, a recruitment, retention & diversity consultant, leading Lakota’s “Champions for Change” initiative.
Congratulations to the following Lakota students who won different categories of the writing contest, sharing their ideas on how to incorporate the ideals of the Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community” into their own lives and community.
Gabrielle Mathis, Hopewell Junior seventh-grader, earned the grand prize for her essay titled “Talk, Build, Change, Thrive!”
Isheni Peiris, Creekside Early Childhood Center first-grader, earned the early childhood prize for her piece, titled “We Love Our Community!”
Bonny Kirkmeyer, Endeavor Elementary third-grader, won the elementary category for her essay titled, “Making A Cultural Community Through Books”
Raissa Ndaya, Hopewell Junior eighth-grader, claimed the junior high ESL prize for her essay titled, “Interview Someone With A Different Background, Culture, Heritage, Language, or Other Demographic From Your Own”
Cailey Duckworth, Hopewell Junior eighth-grader, earned the junior high school category prize for her piece titled, “Change: It Starts With You”
Desiree Long, Lakota East freshman, claimed the high school prize for her piece titled, “Implementing the Beloved Community”
According to community coordinator Gail Webster, “The theme centered on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s often-referred-to global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the ‘Beloved Community,’ poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not tolerate it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. The writing assignment included the students’ thoughts and suggestions about what the community can to do become a ‘Beloved Community’ for all.”
Click here to view the West Chester Township video of the day’s events.
Photo above: MLK Day writing contest winners (from front left) Hopewell Junior students Gabrielle Mathis, Cailey Duckworth and Raissa Ndaya, Creekside Early Childhood student Isheni Peiris and Endeavor Elementary student Bonny Kirkmeyer pose with Lakota Board of Education members Julie Shaffer and Ray Murray and Acting Superintendent Robb Vogelmann (back, left to right).