ADELANTO — First-, second- and third-grade students showed off their hard work and talent at the annual Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. event at Harold George Visual and Performing Arts Magnet and Middle School in Adelanto on Friday.
The event consisted of students reenacting the historic 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.
In the hour-long performance in the school’s multipurpose room, students, under the guidance of teachers and staff, sang spiritual and patriotic songs, read poems and recited the historic speech by heart while projecting pictures of the ’63 march on a large screen.
“This was hard work (and) things we do that we’re proud of take hard work,” Vice Principal Carla Hamilton-Yates said. “That’s what makes us really proud of this.”
Students held up signs and letters that stood for some of the words used in the speed, such as "F" for freedom and "R" for remembering King and his passion.
The event attracted some High Desert civic leaders, such as Victorville Mayor Gloria Garcia and Adelanto Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Edwin Gomez.
“I was born and raised right here in the High Desert,” Garcia said in her speech to the students. “Education is one of the most important things that we have to be successful. In your life you need to have your education. You have to think about what you want and it’s never too early. You need to set your goal high and have a plan A and a plan B. Education is important to everyone.”
Garcia said that her father passed away when she was 13, forcing her to change her life plan.
She said that with drive and determination, she still made history in becoming the first Hispanic female mayor of the city of Victorville.
“My family encouraged me to finish school,” Garcia said. “I was a Council member for many years, then in 2014 I was (selected to be) mayor of Victorville. Therefore, I have made history just like MLK. One of you can become mayor of the city of Victorville or president of the United States.”
Her speech to the young student body closely mirrored King's “I Have a Dream” speech.
“Nothing is impossible as long as you have a dream," Garcia said. "I always say, ‘Yes I can.' Never say that something is impossible to achieve.”
Student Jennya Isaac read a poem to inspire her classmates to see people without color.
“We encourage everyone to show love and compassion to everyone regardless of what they look like," Jennya said.
Hamilton-Yates, who has been spearheading the annual celebration for six years, calls it a labor of love.
“Right now I am an administrator at two different sites and it’s been a really hard week,” Yates said. “We only had two weeks to prepare. We have normally given the students this speech to practice over break, but this year, since I am not a teacher anymore, that didn’t happen. So I had to bring back students from last year who already knew the speech by heart.”
The students who performed the speech on stage acted out a paragraph each. Yates said that the "knowing the speech by heart" approach causes the students to not only know the words, but also learn the deeper context, mixing theater arts with history.
“Every year I add something new,” Yates said. “It’s a process, I mean they don’t just memorize the words, they have to understand the vocabulary and to understand what was going on in that time in history so it becomes part of them. Essentially, they are in character on stage pretending they are in Washington."
Second-grade teacher Michelle Lawhead helped the students learn the speech over time and she said that she made sure that they knew the true meaning of the historic speech in Washington.
“We all participated as a group to learn this speech,” Lawhead said. “We practiced five days a week to be ready. We not only practiced in our classrooms, but as a whole assembly to be as clear as we can be in our performance today.
“This was fun for our kids. It’s a great way to share our talent and to share what we feel is a very important day in America."
The students put on two performances Friday morning, one for the lower grades and one for the upper grades.
The second show featured Regina Weatherspoon-Bell, a field representative for San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood. Weatherspoon-Bell presented certificates to the teachers and staff who helped produce the event.
“I think this is a wonderful experience for the kids and that makes it a wonderful thing for us,” Weatherspoon-Bell said. “The experience broadens the kids' perception of King. They are not showing him solely as an iconic figure, but you see him with his family ... see that he was a person. He was an ordinary man who happened to do extraordinary things.”
By Jeff Cooper
Jeff Cooper may be reached at 760-951-6276 or JCooper@VVDailyPress.com.
Thank you Victor Valley Press. Original story can be found there.