Parent Perspective: Inspiring MLK Day Program at Heilicher

By Ann Kaner-Roth

Each year since 1986, on the third Monday in January, our nation observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day. MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." Much of Dr. King's legacy centers on recognizing the power of service to strengthen communities and achieve common goals. This commemorative day was designed to best recognize and continue that legacy. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, MLK Day is, "a way to transform Dr. King's life and teachings into community action" in a way that "brings together people from different backgrounds." Heilicher works hard to commemorate the day in the way it was intended.

Since enrolling my three children at Heilicher in 2009, one of the things I have always been grateful for is our school's intentionality around recognizing this important day. Instead of choosing to use that day as a day off of school, or even a day of regular classes, Heilicher designs an annual program for the day that includes a variety of age-appropriate, educational, and inspiring learning opportunities.

This year, I was especially excited to see Pastor Danny Givens – a leader with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis – scheduled to speak at the morning assembly. Pastor Givens gave a wonderfully engaging presentation, leading the students in an exercise that challenged them to think about their words and their emotions as they make decisions and act upon them. The students participated actively and seemed to be hanging on Pastor Givens' every word. Other portions of the day included a training on racial bias for the upper school students led by the education staff at Penumbra Theatre; poetry and spoken word presented by the students; and performances by the Heilicher choir. It was truly an inspiring day.

The morning and afternoon assemblies are always open to parents and families to attend, and if you haven't had the chance to be there before, I encourage you to come next year. Every year, attending the MLK program at Heilicher is a priority for me, and I always come away happy that I was able to be there. I've already marked my calendar for next year's MLK Day program, and it is not too early to mark yours too – Monday, January 15, 2018. See you there!

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