King Day activities: Contests, special events in Ann Arbor schools

Schools celebrate the life, birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

From AAPSNews Service

Buildings around the Ann Arbor Public Schools celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. Day national holiday of Jan. 17 with activities in classrooms and assemblies for students. Some have already taken place and others are scheduled for the coming week.

Schools and public buildings throughout the country are closed today, Jan 17, in honor of the slain civil rights leader.

Following are some of the events around the district shared with the AAPSNews:

Clague students take multi-week journey

Students and staff at Clague Middle School have celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a multi-week celebration. Starting with a contest in December, it culminates with a display wall the week after their MLK Program. Some of the activities at Clague include:
• Contest: Students depict a theme in an essay, poem, poster, mixed media, or original creation. The school had 53 entries this year. The theme: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?”

Dicken MLK Day
Students at Dicken Elementary hear music from Vincent York & Jazzistry, teaching them about the culture and history of jazz music.

• Mini-lesson on character: During Jan. 14 advisory, students received a character trait button to wear and brainstormed ideas of service in “an action plan.” They will have a week to perform the service – details of each student’s plan will be put on a common wall near the school office.
• MLK program: The school’s annual program on Jan. 14 was a collaborative effort of the staff and students.  Music students performed, did choral readings and Powerpoints, and awarded the winners of the contest that began in December. Top winners receive a pizza lunch and a trip to the Sphinx concert in Ann Arbor.

Carpenter hosted all-school event honoring Dr. King

The Carpenter Elementary School community honored Martin Luther King Jr. during a Community Meeting on Jan. 10. Students sang “What Can One Little Person Do?” and “He had a Dream” and “He Wanted to Have the Same Freedom” under the direction of Laura Machida. Rebecca Archer’s third-graders read about Dr. King and performed “We Thank You Dr. Martin Luther King, Today and Everyday” and fourth-graders from Kelsey Cook’s, Marilyn Freeman’s and Ramona Sankovich’s classes performed “We Shall Overcome” on their recorders. Principal Ron Collins, reflected on Dr. King’s message and encouraged students to practice the messages of peace and getting along.

Expanding the MLK experience at Lawton and Northside

Julia Gold’s third-grade class at Lawton Elementary School did an all-class project passing on gifts of kindness during the week leading up to MLK Day. The class kept track of these acts by passing a “kindness card” to the student who received the act of kindness. The card was passed along to another student with each new kindness act. At week’s end the class counted how many acts were accumulated and hearts were hung for each.

Also at Lawton Fourth-graders at Lawton Elementary did an MLK musical performance for their school on Friday and first-grade teacher Kerry Krause planned to read “Martin’s Big Words” to her students, have students read a book about MLK from Enchanted Learning together and write about a dream that they have for the world.

Teachers at Northside Elementary School did a variety of classroom activities including A schoolwide assembly on Jan. 12 which included Janice Smith’s kindergarteners singing “Different Means Special,” fourth-graders singing “Something for You” and Susan Ulrey’s and Rebecca Coleman’s first-graders performing at the assembly, among others. Here are some other Northside activities:
• Rose Ann McGarty’s kindergarteners heard “A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. and followed up with worksheets and writing assignments about respect. Fifth-grade reading buddies interviewed the young children and were comparing their lives to MLK’s.
• Evengeline Burgers’ kindergarteners also read aloud to her class and did an interdisciplinary activity reading “The Shape Story,” with the theme “that they can make beautiful things if they all work together.”
• In Sandra Chang’s kindergarten class, students read “Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King”, saw a video clip and did a time line paper looking at the events in his life.
• Second-graders in Jennifer Wade’s class had daily discussions of civil rights, equal rights and watched a video about King and created books about his life.
• Fourth-graders in Dianne Baker’s class read and wrote about King’s life, heard the “I Have a Dream” speech, posted bullet points of King accomplishments in the classroom entry and did other activities.
• Media Specialst Jeri Schneider has read King biographies and historical fiction relating to his work and civil rights. Fifth-graders created slides of King quotes that she edited together to use in the all-school assembly.
• ESL teacher Ana Taylor had special stations for students to rotate through including books on tape, writing activities, vocabulary to reinforce what they have learned about King and how his ideas shape and connect with life today.

Friday programs lead up to today’s MLK national holiday

Vincent York & Jazzistry performed at Dicken Elementary to help the school celebrate MLK Day. The school’s Recess Singers (group of first- through fifth-graders who practice at lunch) performed a song about equality to open the event. York also spent time with small groups of students by grade level on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, offering a closer look into the instruments and their history that he uses during the all-school assembly.

Allen Elementary students hosted an all-school assembly with narration by Principal Joan Fitzgibbon and fifth-graders doing a presentation of “I have a Dream” with narration and songs.

Ann Arbor Open @ Mack hosted a MLK Day assembly celebrating the life of Martin Luther King and tying in the theme of bullying. The program pointed out how King was treated as he tried to bring a peaceful change in civil rights and stressed that every student should feel safe, welcome and valued. A theme: “We celebrate Dr. King today and we think about how all of us can become peacemakers. Everyone at Ann Arbor Open is a member of our community.”

All grades at Bryant Elementary School participated in an assembly with poems, songs, skits, choral readings and student artwork highlighting the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At Eberwhite Elementary, the school celebrated MLK Day with an all-school assembly. The school sand three songs grouped by grade level (K-1, 2-3 and 4-5) and a few classes read poems, did a MLK life timeline and shared facts about King and the Civil Rights Movement.

Special invitation from EMU

Several students from Dawn Richberg’s class at Skyline High School were among area students performing at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 16. The afternoon program featured the EMU Gospel Choir, Harambe Youth Drummers, PURe Dance Ensemble, Tiana Marquez, Primal 1 Ensemble and Inspirational readings by area teens. The event was one of several scheduled by EMU from Jan. 13-18 as part of this year’s “Their Footprints … Our Legacy.”


Thursday, Jan. 20

10:30 a.m. – Abbot Elementary School will host the Bright Star Touring Theatre production of “Struggle for Freedom,” a 45-minute production that honors the Civil Rights movement by celebrating moments of the struggle. The life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. provides the backdrop to recreated scenes of events such as the Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington and the Woolworth sit-ins. Visit

Friday, Jan. 21

Stone High School’s Intergroup, led by Shaenu Micou, plans an all-school assembly today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr..

1:30 p.m. – “Sadie’s Spectacular Saturday,” Burns Park Elementary Auditorium. A character-ed production with imaginative costumes that make this play a favorite among young audiences while teaching good judgment, kindness, friendship and respect. Visit

2:30 p.m. – “Struggle for Freedom,” Burns Park Elementary Auditorium. Bright Star Touring Theatre, a professional touring theatre company performed this production that celebrates the life and work and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the context of the American Civil Rights movement. The theme: One person can change the world. Visit

Friday, Jan. 28

2:30 p.m. – Each Bach Elementary School student will have a chance to recite a poem and sing songs that honor Dr. King’s memory in this culminating assembly. The focus will be on peace, getting along with one another, positive conflict resolution and building friendships.


NAAPID (National African American Parent Involvement Day)
This Washtenaw County NAAPID program is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 14 at Saline High School Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Campus Parkway, Saline. Students from throughout Washtenaw County, including Ann Arbor, participate in this event, which is scheduled each year for the second Monday in February. A poster contest is under way with the deadline scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. Information about the contest can be found by downloading a PDF here. This year’s event theme: “Parent Involvement 365 = Student Success.”

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