Martin Luther King Day is another week away, but that didn’t stop Northwest Catholic from celebrating Dr. King’s legacy during a school-wide assembly this Monday morning. Perhaps unbeknownst to the NWC community, they've actually turned MLK Day into MLK Week.
They've also reached beyond honoring the great Rev. Dr. King to remembering peacemakers throughout history and from all over the world. King’s message of peace, justice, faith, and love is the perfect fit for this West Hartford high school that holds these tenets close to its heart, and the school's diverse community committed to justice make the study of peacemakers a no-brainer.
NWC came together Monday morning to pay tribute to Dr. King. To start, President Christian Cashman spoke of King’s commitment to the “beloved community,” urging the audience to help realize King’s dream by making Northwest Catholic a “beloved community” and remembering all the great leader preached. Cashman delivered his remarks amidst a backdrop of a time-lapse video capturing Ms. Marquis’s Art III students creating a powerful canvas of King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” which will hang in the school’s atrium until January 21 before finding a permanent location in the Breen Center for the Arts.
Following President Cashman’s remarks, emcees Kiana Woods of Bloomfield and Sheena Wolliston of Windsor, both seniors at the school, delivered the morning prayer, introduced a video highlighting MLK’s call to do right and his courage in the face of threats, and guided eight students on stage who shared MLK quotes.
Following the litany of famous words, keynote speaker Justin Tavares, a sophomore from New Hartford, gave a detailed history lesson of King’s work for civil rights and tied King’s message back to Northwest Catholic, explaining how this community before him represents what King dreamed of — a place where no matter your race, religion, socioeconomics, etc., you belong.
The audience then enjoyed a video of NWC students and staff quoting Dr. King in different languages, including Haitian Creole, German, French, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. Seeing the faces and hearing the languages of fellow students and staff helped the audience to see what richness surrounds them and how King’s message extends beyond the American Civil Right Movement to peace and justice across the globe.
The final element of Northwest Catholic’s MLK program was a play on the famed “Poem in Your Pocket Day.” NWC borrowed the idea to celebrate “Peacemaker in Your Pocket Day,” where every student and staff member was given a small photo and brief biography of an important peacemaker in history. They were charged with holding their peacemaker in the their pockets to be reminded of what greatness is, and they were encouraged to share their peacemaker with their friends. Thirty-six different peacemakers, from Nelson Mandela to Malala Yousafzai to Mahatma Ghandi to Sister Helen Prejean, left the Rice Auditorium in pockets and are walking into every corner of the campus today.
Martin Luther King Day will come Monday, January 21, and Northwest Catholic’s students will have the national holiday off from school. They’ll be sleeping late, playing video games, watching Netflix, studying for midterms, and doing what teens do. But the Northwest Catholic community will know why they have the day off from school and knowing why this holiday is so important is enough.