23 Aug 2014
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How We're Observing MLK Day

Schools vary from "day off" to staged readings and concerts.

How We're Observing MLK Day How We're Observing MLK Day


Though not many Niles-area schools are planning events for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is observed today, some teachers have taught about the noted civil rights leader's principles. Other schools, such as Northwestern University, have planned elaborate commemorations.

While all local schools are closed for the holiday, here's a roundup of what's happening locally:  

Northwestern University

A full day of events is planned, and is free and open to the public. A noon lecture features Dr. Benjamin Carson, who will recall his beginnings in poverty and journey to become a leading physician in the nation, as well as Dr. Morton Schapiro, the university president, and a jazz concert. Inquire about free tickets for this event. At 2:30, attend a staged reading of "Stick Fly," a play by Lydia R. Diamond, a noted veteran of Chicago's theater scene, which touches on African American themes. There will also be a 7 p.m. candlelight vigil with Tim King, founder of Urban Prep Academy, who was named a "Hero of the Year" by People Magazine.

Niles North and Niles West High Schools (District 219)

No programming is scheduled, according to Jim Szczepaniak, communications director.

Culver School, Niles Elementary District 71

Amy Kruppe, District 71 superintendent, reports:

  • The fourth grade is reading an article, having a discussion, and working on comprehension questions.  We had previously completed a biographical selection on Martin Luther King and discussed the author's purpose and point of view, as the story was written by King's sister.
  • Guided reading groups are reading a short story about him, and we are going to write about OUR dreams for a better world.
  • Second grade will be reading books on Dr. King, watching a clip of Dr. King's speech, and discussing/journal writing on the importance of treating others with respect and kindness.
  • First grade is learning about MLK and the concept of peace.  We are working with Ms. Kirshbaum to incorporate the ideas of the "Rachel's Challenge."  We will be doing a project for the hallway and writing about our dreams for the world. 

Maine East, West and South High Schools: (District 207)

Teachers told spokesperson Dave Beery that the timing of final exams, which occur Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, make it difficult to schedule any MLK Day programming, since students are cramming for their tests.

East Maine Elementary District 63

    At in Niles, Principal Dr. Scott Herrmann reports:

    • Our daily Words of Wisdom will feature Dr. King.
    • Student Council is sponsoring an assembly by “Dr. King”, an actor/impersonator who discusses Dr. King’s life and work (next Friday)
    • In social studies, students will be reviewing and discussing the “I have a Dream” speech and making their own “quilts” with their own dreams for the future.  Other students will use the speech to write their own speech, again regarding their own personal dreams.
    • Students will be using Wordle to create word clouds of MLK’s famous speeches to analyze and discuss his goals as a civil rights leader.
    • Students will view a documentary on the life of MLK, and complete a webquest on teaching tolerance.
    • In language arts, students will discuss and use MLK’s essay “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” to introduce a unit on persuasive writing. Students will complete reading comprehension activities discussing Dr. King.

    At in Glenview, Principal Gregory Kleckner reports:

    • Our 6th graders are beginning with Brain Pop (intro) and then have an excerpt to discuss why we honor Dr. King, sharing a book written from King's  sister, and ending with a 1) pair, share, 2) discussions leading with: “How do you think it felt to be segregated” (which flows with our slavery unit in social studies), and  3) follow-up by his I Have A Dream speech on video and in written form to analyze what it means.
    • Our 5th graders have read Martin's Big Words, watched a short video on him and his "I Have A Dream" speech, and then the kids created "I have a dream..." clouds (see photos). We brainstorm dreams for ourselves, our family, our community, our country, our school, and our world.  From there, students choose from which category they will write and illustrate on clouds.  The clouds are then strung up in linear fashion and hung around the room.
    • Our 4th graders did several activities, including reading the book My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris. We did a journal writing prompt, "If I had a dream...." We are going to watch and listen to the story, There Are No Mirrors In My Nana's House. It can be found on Storylineonline.com. We are going to watch Holiday Fun Facts: Dr. Martin Luther King on unitedstreaming.com.
    • Our 3rd graders are watching a video about King's life on unitedstreaming.com, hearing the book My brother Martin and discussing Martin Luther King Jr.'s dreams and how they changed our country. Kids will discuss the importance of dreams and brainstorm their own dreams for themselves, their family, their school, their community, country and world. Create a "hanging clouds" project to display their dreams.
    • Our lower grades are doing similar things as the upper grades, video, discussion, and “I have a Dream Projects.” This is a beginning concept time, so there is more discussion about it and learning how to apply those ideals set by Dr. King into our everyday lives.

    Willows Academy, Oakton Community College

    Neither of these schools has any activities planned.

    Park Ridge-Niles Elementary District 64

    Bernadette Tramm, spokeswoman, said she had not heard back from any teachers about any activities, as of 5 p.m. Friday.

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