By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published January 20, 2011
A gym filled with parents and students listened to an hour of song, dance and words as young people celebrated the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Musicians from schools across the Atlanta Archdiocese performed at St. Peter Claver Regional School on Sunday, Jan. 16, as part of the annual weekend celebration of King, who would have been 82 on Jan. 15. The celebration’s theme was “Your Kindness Should be Known to All,” taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
The event was organized by the Office of Catholic Schools and the archdiocesan Black Catholic Ministry. Father John Adamski and Kathy Merritt served as the youth celebration committee.
Participating in the day were students from Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Atlanta, Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fayetteville, St. John the Evangelist School, Hapeville, and Decatur schools, St. Peter Claver and St. Thomas More.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory attended the celebration, handing out certificates to the award winners. In brief remarks, he said there were other King celebrations that may be more solemn or more formal, but this was special because the participants are “from the city Dr. King called home.”
The young people showed the dream and the promise that King called the community to support, he said. King’s movement has been “entrusted to us and we, in turn, entrust it to our children and the future,” he said.
Kayla Ward was born 28 years after the civil rights icon was slain. Despite the gap in time and personal circumstances, the young girl, an eighth-grader at St. Joseph School, Athens, said she learned through her research on King to look at the similarities between people who on the surface appear very different from each other.
“We can all be brought together and remember Dr. Martin Luther King and what he did for us,” said the 14-year-old.
Ward, who admitted that English is not her favorite subject, won the top essay prize as part of the youth celebration. Given the project as homework, Ward said she took about a week to finish the 250-word writing assignment. She reflected on the day’s biblical theme and what it would mean to a teenager but also to everyone. Ward said she thought of how she would help others and what she sees others doing. She celebrated the award with her parents, Laura and David Ward.