Middle School Day of Service Honors Dr. King
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This week, students across all three divisions participated in programming that celebrated the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In honor of this National Day of Service, MB held its first ever “Middle School Day of Service” on Thursday, January 20. For the entire day, 6th, 7th and 8th teams participated in activities focused around service, and welcomed leaders from organizations in the local community to connect with students both through Zoom and in-person.
The eighth-grade class was excited to begin their first “Day of Service” as they gathered together in the science room in Ross House. They kicked the day off with a presentation led by MB’s DEI Director Luke Anderson on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luke talked with students about what it means to take a stand, and the class watched and reflected on Dr. King’s Beyond Vietnam speech, delivered at Riverside Church in NYC in April 1967. “I hope you can have just a little of the courage that King had as you go out in the world,” Luke told the students.
Students were asked to reflect on something they learned from the presentation. Eighth grade student Liam C. shared, “I’ve heard several of his speeches and they give me goosebumps. He was so committed to his cause.”
“Service work happens every day in big moments and small moments.”
Next on the schedule was a Service Day activity led by Middle School English teacher Maureen Nagle. The goal of this exercise was to encourage students to think about how they can personally help in their own communities. “What are the needs of our community we live in?” said Mo. “We all live in community – at school, home, in our neighborhoods. Think about the needs we have around us.”
Students worked with a partner or small group to explore a service organization in Rhode Island that was of interest to them. They were then tasked with creating an idea for their own service organizations to present to the class.
The last session of the day focused on community building. MB was pleased to welcome Helen Baskerville-Dukes from the Mt. Hope Community Center to give a talk about her organization. Helen is the Executive Director of the MHCC located in the Mount Hope Neighborhood of Providence, not far from the Moses Brown campus.
The center, founded in 1981, has provided the Mount Hope area and its residents with programs, services, resources, and outreach that promotes community, economic development, and self-sufficiency. Currently the center is providing covid testing, tax preparation, assistance for women, infants, and children, and career workshops. They also host a summer basketball league (with many trophies to show for it).
“The organization started out as a group that helped keep kids out of trouble,” said Helen, “And today we are still here doing some great things in the community and making sure that we’re serving others.”
Helen gave an inspiring speech to the students, emphasizing the importance of helping make life better for those who are less fortunate.
“It’s in my bones to serve,” said Helen. “I’m glad I’m here because I want to continue to inspire and motivate you all to serve somebody or to do something for your community. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can help just one person and make a big difference.”
One way Helen has been able to build community is through a game she created called “Wallopball,” which is similar to wall ball, soccer, and American handball. Helen’s dream is to be able to bring Wallopball to even more schools in the Providence area and beyond, and she was thrilled to have MB students be one of the first groups to try out the new sport. “Sport is an equalizer,” said Helen. “I don’t want this just to be an inner city sport.”
After learning the rules with the class, students divided into two groups. One group headed to squash courts to play Wallopball, and the other stayed in the classroom to write cards and letters to be delivered to the elderly at a local senior center. The groups then switched so they could experience both activities. Check out some of the thoughtful cards that were created by students:
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve” – a message that Middle School students will take with them after a fulfilling day of service to others.