The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was on the minds of students and staff alike in the Upper School as we began this week.

Students in the Middle School spent time reflecting on the accomplishments of Martin Luther King and the reasons we set aside this day to honor him.  After completing a short assignment researching who he was and what his goals were, students were able to have a meaningful discussion, guided by Middle School Social Studies teacher Jaime Pitschi, focusing on the idea of tolerance, about the impact Dr. King has had on the United States and on their own lives.  Taking this knowledge, students traced their own footprints in an effort to show how they can, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel is often quoted, “pray with their feet.”  On their left foot, they were to write and/or draw one way Dr. King’s message of tolerance has affected their lives today, while on the right foot they were to write and/or draw one thing they would do to continue Dr. King’s message of tolerance.  The 6th, 7th and 8th grade students were very thoughtful in their approach to the assignment and created beautiful footprints that reflect their interpretation of Dr. King’s message.

Through the work of Rabbi Iscah Waldman and Social Studies Department Coordinator Randy Trupin, high school students explored the famous “I Have a Dream” speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. First students viewed a video of the speech, then with the help of faculty members and seniors in Rabbi Waldman’s Rabbinics class, students explored the text of the speech, making connections to important Jewish texts through a school-wide beit midrash (literally house of study) in the gym. This was an incredible learning experience for students combing Jewish and general studies through the lens of a classic Jewish learning technique, the beit midrash.

Students in both divisions left the day with a stronger sense of why we choose to honor  Dr. King each January and, hopefully, with some thoughts on how we can honor and build upon his life’s work throughout the year.

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