Does GL Teach About MLK Jr. Day?


Madeline Gooley

Students in Ms. Scott’s 11th grade English class create T-shirts with quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”The class also had a discussion about protests and how his protests are relevant today.

Madeline Gooley, Staff Writer

Has Martin Luther King Jr. Day only amounted to a day off of school? A majority of students have expressed a lack of recognition of MLK Jr. day throughout their high school experience, and many are working to change that. 

In June 2020, the Grand Ledge School Board created the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, “striving to achieve educational equity and justice,” says their page. And with that, a teacher-based group was also formed to directly work with Grand Ledge High School and its teachers. 

This group provided GLHS teachers with resources from and Both sites have set curriculums provided to teachers to help educate students on the importance of this day. Though, some teachers have their own curriculum that they follow. 

“Most of the time I often get examples from the Civil Rights Era (1950s-1960s) of how protests evolve and are effective in democracies.” Said Mrs. Read for her U.S History class. “Students in my World History classes also compare what protests look like and how they operate in multiple types of societies/countries.”

Of course, Dr. Martin Luther King is a large historical figure, so simply discussing his achievements and struggles is one way to honor him. However, many of those achievements were accomplished using text and speech. 

“I plan on discussing and analyzing some of Dr. King’s words.  We will also watch an analysis of a speech.” Mrs. Rios-Thomas, AP Language and British Literature teacher, said. “My class is all about the power of words, and Dr. King demonstrated that truth all his life.” 

With these new resources and curriculum plans, teachers hope to spread awareness and honor Martin Luther King Day the best they can. However, high school teachers are not the only ones educating students in the district.

Mrs. Sandell’s 5th grade class has read articles and formulated their own opinion on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This allows students to not only expand their knowledge, but also expand their ability to think critically on the subject. 

“Whenever we read books we always try to find out what’s the book really about the deeper meaning or story to it and they did a great job today talking about the words that were inspiring to Martin Luther King and those words that drive him to be who he was,” said Mr. Sewick, Wacousta 3rd grade teacher, who’s class also reads about Martin Luther King.

The class also creates a timeline of his life and achievements throughout the week to give the students a better picture of who he was. 

Even Wacousta Elementary Physical Education Teacher, Mrs. Hinojosa, incorporates Martin Luther King Jr. education into the workout routines with her students. 

Though our high school curriculum is improving around this topic, there are some changes students would like to see. Many have expressed that MLK Jr. Day isn’t just a day about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but a day to celebrate everyone who contributed like him. 

“[We should] spend the day celebrating the multitude of people who have and continue to make pivotal contributions to the civil rights and back lives matter movements.” Said Miah Winston, Grand Ledge High School Junior.

In 1986 MLK Jr. Day was first recognized and later, in 1994, it became a national day of service. That means, the day is meant for helping your community and giving back. 

Below are links to different organizations that you can donate to support the cause:

And other links to expand your knowledge about Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Believed “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” Are we honoring his word?