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Bainbridge middle school skips day off for Martin Luther King

Haylee Derrickson (left) and classmates prepare for a march that kicks off their MLK lesson this year.
Kim Trick
Hyla Middle School
Haylee Derrickson (left) and classmates prepare for a march that kicks off their MLK lesson this year.

Not all kids are enjoying a day off thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Teachers and administrators at Hyla Middle School on Bainbridge Island see it as the perfect time to give students a new perspective on the civil rights leader.  

The staff decided to make learning about Martin Luther King different than the same old, same old.  This year, they asked every student to give up their holiday, ferry to Seattle, and march for equality and justice

Haylee Derrickson is in eighth grade.  She thinks it’s a great idea, even though she loves having the day off. 

“It’s something we learn about in school, but it’s a lot different to get to participate in it. It’s more real because it’s not just an essay.”

Derrickson says the whole point of the holiday is to honor King.  And it’s not like he’d be sitting around.  She says it’s tough for kids to see how they could inspire people like he did with his nonviolent protests against segregation and discrimination.  So she says this assignment is a good place to start.

"If you have a nice peaceful march or walk and you see a big group of people together, you just think of the community. It's like a symbol of we all believe in this and we believe in it together."

This is the first time the school has participated in the march.  If the kids aren’t too tired after going the extra mile or two, they’ll do it again next year.

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.