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Interactive Assembly Engages Students with History

In preparation for Sanford’s 15th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of service, Science Instructor and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee member Jamy Haughey organized a school assembly for students in grades 5 through 12. The Key Arts Production, LLC, under the direction of Joseph Patterson, took to Sanford’s Geipel stage on January 7th in a production entitled “King’s Dream.”
The presentation was inspiring and moving and used an interactive storytelling approach that incorporated live music into the show. Students were engaged while considering the issues of nonviolence, tolerance, and social justice. Incorporating film footage, archival photographs, and an extensive collection of historical information, the show brought to life the important social and political events that occurred in the United States during a period of social unrest, specifically focusing on the time preceding the Civil War to 1968. African American history and cultural songs were an integral part of the show.

Fifth grader Charlotte McLeod '27 really enjoyed the sshow and shared: “I was greatly moved when they showed the videos of how poorly people were treated just because of the color of their skin. Everyone should be treated fairly, no matter what color they are.” Henry Hetrick '24 stated: “The audience involvement made the show special. I liked clapping along to the songs, and I enjoyed the slideshow that played while the narrator was talking to us.” Similar sentiments were shared by Ada Henry '26 who said: “'The King's Dream' program was interactive, inspiring, and fun to watch! Thank you for providing that experience."

While some of the older students felt that they knew a lot about the life and legacy of Dr. King, many expressed an appreciation for the innovative approach used to tell his story. “I thought the singing was excellent. Telling Dr. King’s life’s story by using song was different and made me pay more attention to what was being expressed about him,” said Alistair Bebbington '20. Emma Colby '21 reflected: “The assembly was a unique way to present the life of Dr. King. The singers had strong voices and Dr. King had strong convictions. Having this assembly before our day of service on MLK Day reminded me of why I was getting up and performing community service on a day when some of my friends had a day off from school.”

After the show, using prepared study guides as a starting point, students continued to have small group conversations to heighten their education surrounding America’s Civil Rights Movement and to help make Sanford’s MLK Day of Service both meaningful and impactful. Inspired by King’s commitment to community, Sanford students offered assistance on January 20th to a wide variety of local organizations, including: ASPCA, Longwood Gardens, Food Bank of Delaware, Friendship House, Latin American Community Center, Kingswood Community Center, and Kirkwood Soccer Club.

Fifth-Grade Instructor Coleen Miller remarked: “My students were genuinely moved by the assembly. In our follow-up discussion, they commented on how Dr. King spent his life working to better the lives of others. Flash forward to our school-wide day of service, and these same students were once again focusing on Dr. King’s commitment. While they marveled at his courage and the conviction of Dr. King to make the world a better place, they also felt personal pride for following his example and involving themselves in a day that helped them become more aware of the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. Their enthusiasm and conversations regarding their service work, inspired by Dr. King’s legacy, truly demonstrated an awakening awareness of a greater community and that with that awareness and a similar conviction, they too can make the world a better place.”

Perhaps fifth grader Sadie Jordan '27 summed it up best when she said: “While other children in Wilmington were sleeping in, staying home to play video games, or playing with their friends, I spent MLK Day at school helping to prepare special bags of hygiene products for people who are less fortunate than me. Today was a very special day for me and for those that we were able to help.”

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