Learning and Living a Historic Dream
By Kristina Thompson, Assistant Principal West Craven High
Each year’s observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday offers our nation the opportunity to reflect on our Constitutional freedoms and the battles that have been fought, and continue to be fought, to ensure that each and every citizen is able to enjoy the freedoms promised to all. The year 2020 brought us many historic events including the loss of two prominent civil rights activists: Congressman John Robert Lewis and Reverend Cordy Tindell Vivian. Each of these two gentlemen worked alongside Reverend King during the Civil Rights movement, making this year’s celebration that much more significant.
Classrooms across the nation normally mark this holiday with programs, special events, and informative lessons. Covid-19 has altered some of the annual traditions due to social distancing requirements. Not to be detoured, teachers at West Craven High School have risen to the challenge and found ways to honor Dr. King though students are not able to be in the building at this time.
Ms. Elizabeth Camden, chorus teacher, has a listening exercise of the spiritual ‘Wade in the Water’ in her virtual lessons for this week. She plans to lead a Zoom class discussion on the history of the song and its significance as a part of that lesson. Mrs. Camden sees music as the perfect venue for showing students how the arts and core content are intertwined. Music touches every part of history. When students connect their feelings with facts, it helps history come alive. It is one thing to talk about the events of the Civil Rights Movement, but it is quite another to be able to empathize with those who were there.
Another teacher who seeks to broaden her students’ understanding of the significance of Dr. King’s life and work is Mrs. Talia Pavlich who teaches English III. Her Juniors will be analyzing Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’ They will then compose their own ‘I Have a Dream’ poem reflecting their own vision for the future. She hopes her students will make the connection between today’s dreams and tomorrow’s realities. Putting thoughts into words turns dreams into plans as evidenced by Dr. King’s example.
American History teachers will no doubt take the opportunity to acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contribution to our country, but the celebration of his life is not limited to social studies alone. The WCH Eagles look to history for understanding and for inspiration. As our students bring their songs, their poems, and their dreams out of today’s classrooms and into tomorrow’s world, we march ever closer to Dr. King’s vision of America.
In his ‘I Have a Dream speech, Dr. King spoke the words, “… though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.” Our students have faced many difficulties over the last year, but they have proven again and again that Eagles soar and rise above. There is no doubt they will find a way to inspire those who come behind them as Dr. King has inspired them.