Montclair Celebrates Dr. King

Montclair Celebrates Dr. King
Posted on 01/18/2022

Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Montclair High School in 1966. Dr. King was invited to speak at a ceremony commemorating Union Baptist Church of Montclair’s Reverend Deual C. Rice’s retirement. Due to the overwhelming number of people who wanted to attend his address, it became apparent that it would be nearly impossible to hold the ceremony in Reverend Rice’s church. In need of a venue, the Montclair High School auditorium was soon named as the location. On Sept. 11, 1966, imparted his wisdom on Montclair’s residents. Read the full story. On Monday, January 17, Montclair’s TV34 premiered the virtual 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast. Superintendent Ponds shared a reflection about Dr. King along with fellow community members. Read the full story

MLK   people in auditorium

On Monday, January 17, Montclair’s TV34 premiered the virtual 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast. Superintendent Ponds shared a reflection about Dr. King along with fellow community members. The Scholarship Fund’s contributions have helped our seniors attend college and further their aspirations. During his segment, Dr. Ponds said, “I’m so proud to be here today to celebrate the life and legacy of one of my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m also so proud of our students and staff who have been engaging in activities of learning and celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King including a reenactment of a peaceful civil rights march, school-wide read-ins, classroom activities and virtual assemblies. The District is closed today so many of our families can celebrate Dr. King and do a Day of Service such as collecting items and creating care kits to give to local organizations. Not just today, but throughout the year, our schools display a commitment to service and community in the inspiration of Dr. King. That’s what makes Montclair so special. Dr. King’s words and service are an inspiration to all and he has so many profound teachings and sayings. But this one is very special when we think back to our times of struggles and challenges: “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” If you didn't get a chance to watch the celebration, it is available on TV34's YouTube channel.

Around our schools, students participated in a variety of inspiring and educational virtual activities highlighting the life and legacy of Dr. King. Some of our PTA’s were able to still hold “Day On” service activities. See below for just a sample of what took place throughout the district.

Students watched a wonderful presentation put together by the Student Council on Dr. King’s legacy. It entailed his biography, as well as how Bradford will honor one of his themes, building an inclusive and equitable community. It was then followed by a wonderful read-aloud of, “Anti-racist Baby” by  Ibram X. Kendi, spearheaded by Student Council AREA-C representative Addie Strickland. She along with several Bradford students did an amazing job reading and creating this video for their Bradford community. The school is working on a mural that honors Dr. King's work with improving the quality of the community, and how that starts with oneself. Students were asked to answer, What can you do to help improve your community? "We want to empower students to feel like they can make changes that will impact their space," said Principal Frances Aboushi. 

Students and families were asked to send in donations to support local organizations in need. Grades K-1-2 Brought in donations for the following organizations: Toni’s Kitchen and Montclair Animal Shelter. Grades 3-4-5 brought in donations for the following organizations: Human Needs Pantry and S.O.F.I.A. 

On Mon., Jan. 17's MLK Day of Service, over 50 families signed on to watch a presentation honoring MLK, and participated in an activity, that entailed reflecting on his quotes. They also wrote letters to express support for those who help our community stay safe: our crossing guards! Write a letter to share how helpful our crossing guards are and how important they are to our community.

Added Aboushi, "Huge shout out to Ms. Campbell Minister and Dr. Sapana Patel for their help in putting together the MLK activities."

students give presentation  student and crossing guard

hand cut outs for mural  hand print mural

This year’s event was virtual. The educational component focused on the two elements of Social Justice that the kids will be studying this trimester at CHB: Social Injustice and Social Movements and Social Change. A video presentation where children could respond was created and students also made a corresponding art project in school. For the community service component, students and families packaged canned goods and toiletries for local organizations that help folks in need. Students also created bookmarks to be included with the donation packages. The bookmarks were inspired by the quest for social justice.

Edgemont held a virtual Day On that began with a mindful moment followed by the option of joining two virtual "rooms," one to make peace cranes and the other to participate in a Civil Rights Movement trivia game. The school also collected coats for the Newark Water Coalition.

Principal Samanthaa Anglin began Hillside’s virtual assembly saying, “We come together in spirit to honor Dr. King. We will never forget his trailblazing activism and soaring vision for a just America.” Student council president Zoe Foster gave opening remarks and was followed by student presentations and a performance of “Music Changes the World,” by the Hillside Chorus. As a Day of Service Project, families participating in creating Blessing Bags with Peace Notes to support Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless (MESH). Let’s spread some kindness and love to our neighbors. Blessing Bags included items such as travel-sized toiletries, granola or protein bars, adult-sized socks, gloves, hats, Chapstick, Band-Aids and hand sanitizer. Students were asked to write a sweet note with words of kindness and encouragement.

students fill bags  student filling bags

students filling bags  bags of toiletries

student filling bags  students filling bags

Beginning in December and culminating with a celebration on January 14 in honor of Dr. King, Nishuane participated in Acts of Kindness and Justice and created a school-wide paper chain linked and strung around the hallways. Nishuane teachers and staff award paper links each time a child performed: a good deed; a random act of kindness; demonstrated cooperation; justice; showed respect; etc. The student then personalized the link with their name and a short description or small picture of the act. Students could also acknowledge and award their own acts or those they observe others performing. Families were also encouraged to award kind and just acts at home, making their own links using construction paper or recycled paper. Throughout the program, in-class and school-wide activities and games will be used to build character and promote cooperation, good citizenship, and positive socialization skills. During the celebration it was announced that 1091 rings had been collected throughout the school. In addition, staff led a virtual school-wide read-aloud of "Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King" by Jean Marzollo and students we taught about the importance of Dr. King's strategy of using non-violence as a means to overcome oppressive acts. Students were educated on the backstory and importance of Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder and then danced in classrooms.

staff doing virtual read-in


On Friday, Jan. 15, students recreated a peaceful civil rights march in honor of Dr. King. See coverage of the march courtesy of Montclair Local.

students recreate peaceful march

To honor the work and values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Renaissance Middle School worked with the PTA and SATp to put together a menu of options for Renaissance families to do together or with classmates and friends. They consisted of a virtual component with engagement from home and a local service opportunity of giving, benefitting S.O.F.I.A., a Montclair based non-profit that provides advocacy and supportive services for those affected by domestic violence, and the Montclair High School NOW club’s initiative to provide free, quality sanitary supplies to students in MHS restrooms. 

Watchung had a day of service based on one of Dr. King’s most famous quotes: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Students independently created care kits and supportive signs, posters and banners for Mountainside Hospital from home that will be compiled. The school also had a virtual assembly delivered by the Hip Hop Fundamentals called the “Civil Rights Movement.” Through hip hop, this program teaches about student involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement, while also addressing racism, segregation, and the struggle for freedom that many students had to endure.

Students around the district also participated in service activities on their own such as MHS senior Lillian Salem (below, fourth from right) who helped deliver furniture, home goods, clothing, toys, etc. to the Livingston Houses in Newark.
high school student volunteers
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