While most businesses and schools in America celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. with a day off, this year Thacher honored his legacy with a day dedicated to remembrance and learning.
At Monday’s assembly, organized by Mr. Mieszczanski and the heads of United Cultures of Thacher, the community was treated to poignant quotations from Dr. King and various reflections on his work and the meaning of the holiday for the country and to the individuals who spoke.
The School took a day off from classes on Wednesday and devoted that time to specially designed workshops created by faculty members and student leaders on topics related to Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, social injustice, and more. Additionally, the School was addressed by keynote speaker, Lanny Kaufer, who outlined the history of and shared some of his personal experiences with the Civil Rights Movement. He also offered a musical perspective by performing some of the songs that provided the soundtrack to the Movement.
Mr. Jacobsen, organizer of the MLK day workshops, commented, “I was so proud of the student body for the way they contributed to the observance today. Not only were they respectful and attentive during the keynote, but they also encouraged Mr. Kaufer when he bravely attempted his 'rap for direct action.' I was really touched by their positive spirit. Their participation and leadership in the workshops showed that they were not just 'showing up' but eager to engage and learn and teach. Their thoughtful comments in my session proved once more that our students are eager to expand their understanding and to reinforce our intentional community. Likewise, my colleagues on the faculty rose to the occasion and added immeasurably to the event. Their creative topics, conscientious planning, and expressive facilitation of their discussions showed their commitment to our students and our mission. They were tremendous.”
Some students offered the following reflections on their workshops:
"One word to describe my MLK workshop regarding Hurricane Katrina and the lack of government aid to the poor mostly African American state of Louisiana; enlightening."—Miguel Sierra '16
"I think that celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day is something that we should do at Thacher every year. Even if some people do not find it worthwhile, if this day is significant and eye opening to just a few people, that alone makes MLK Day extremely valuable."—Ana Urgiles '13
"There are many 'strong' people in the world who use their strength in order to get their point across through their use of strong words and even violence. It was so inspirational to be in the presence of a person so peaceful and yet so strong. Mr. Kaufer was able to get his point across the nation with out violence, but through his use of peaceful words and song, and what a difference he made. Mr. Kaufer did face violence when the 'strong' people did not agree with him, but he was the stronger person and never fought back. Mr. Kaufer is a powerful role model for many people, including myself, because he was able to make such an impact on our nation through his tranquil yet vibrant actions for civil rights."—Annie Beckham '14
"My workshop was inspired by activist Peggy McIntosh's article about examining white privilege. The workshop was very refreshing and gave us students the opportunity to engage in thoughtful and honest conversation about topics that we seldom talk about."—Nu Xiong '13
Here is a list of the workshops that were available to the students:
1. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech—Poetry and
Persuasion. Led by Ms. Sawyer-Mulligan
2. Microagressions: A discussion and study of Micoagressions in Race, Sexuality, and Socioeconomic Status. Led by David Chao '14, Mahogony Monette '14, and Mr. Mieszczanski
3.Diversity at Boarding School. Led by Mr. Snyder
4. Chalk for Peace. Led by Mr. Aaron CdeP 1972 and Ms. Nixon.
5. Hurricane Katrina and Its Legacy: The Road Home (for Some). Led by Ms. Hooper
6. Gender Identification and Sexuality. Led by Ms. McMahon, Paul Cresanta ‘13, and Maeve Briggs ‘13, on behalf of Spectrum.
7. The “Blue Eyed/Brown Eyed” Experiment. Led by Ms. Perry and Mr. Jacobsen
8. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Led by Mr. Perry
9. The Reality of Race. Led by Ms. Pidduck and Mr. McGowan
10. My Years as an Activist. Led by Mr. Lanny Kaufer
11. The Jim Crow South and Plessy vs. Ferguson. Led by Mr. St. George
12. The Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT). Led by Mr. & Ms. Meyer.
13. Case Studies & Role Play—an exploration of the issues of equality and social justice in boarding school life. Led by Mr. Carney and Mr. Mulligan
14. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Led by Ana Urgiles ‘13, Nu Xiong ‘13 and Ms. Halsey
15. Gender Equity—Where are we today? Led by Ms. Vickery and Mr. Hooper
16. 20th Century African-American Art. Led by Mr. Robinson
17. Childhood Poverty and Race in America. Led by Dr. DelVecchio