January 14, 2012 in Washington Voices

Marchers with a message

Orchard Center students learn about King, civil rights
By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Students from Orchard Center Elementary School march down a street near the school Friday, during a celebration of Martin Luther King Day. The students made signs and performed a skit at an assembly.
(Full-size photo)

On the Web: Find more photos of the Orchard Center events at www.spokesman.com/picture-stories/

Students at Orchard Center Elementary School in the West Valley School District learned a lesson in civil rights this week to commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday’s assembly included a skit by the leadership students.

“A Man Who Believed in Peace” included facts about the life of the civil rights leader and re-enactments of some of the marches he led. They discussed his Nobel Peace Prize, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act, the march between Selma and Montgomery, Ala., and King’s assassination in 1968.

“A man filled with hate killed a man who preached love,” one student in the skit said.

After the assembly, the students bundled up and picked up handmade signs to march through the neighborhood.

Principal Travis Peterson said they have tried in the past to organize student attendance in the march through downtown Spokane on the holiday, but many students didn’t get a chance to participate.

For the past five years the school has held its own march. Second-grade teacher Natalie Andres started the tradition with her class, but now all 309 students at the school participate.

“They’ll all get the sense of what it means,” Peterson said.

Many students chanted “MLK” as they marched. Some just braved the cold weather and laughed with their friends.

Third-grader Heather Penniman said King had a big speech so that “black people can have the same rights as white people.” She said she thought his message was still important today.

Second-grader Quentin Tuttle said they were marching because they agree with King’s message, “that black people can be with white people”

Sincere Whitright, another second-grader, said King was important because he helped to change the rights of everyone.

Peterson said the march wasn’t the only activity in which the students participated. They watched a video, “Our Friend Martin,” which explains the history of King.

They also held a food drive. Peterson said students collected enough food to fill a van and the fourth- and fifth-grade leadership students went to Millwood Presbyterian Church to help with the mobile food truck that distributes food at the church.

“They bring that message back to all the kids,” Peterson said.

After the march, the students proudly waved their signs and gathered for a group picture in front of the school.

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