Hayden When asked why they recognized Martin Luther King Jr. on the national holiday named in his honor, the Hayden sixth-graders’ hands shot in the air and many screamed, “Me, me, me.”
One student said desegregation. Another said equal rights. And a third said King did those without violence.
“Instead of fighting with weapons, he fought with words,” sixth-grader Abby Cadenhead said.
The brief discussion, which preceded a team-building exercise and art project, was part of an all-day workshop for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
“Our main focus with our workshop is communication skills, respect, conflict resolution and diversity awareness,” said Ali Moyer, an AmeriCorps volunteer who works as a school-based mentor in Hayden for Partners in Routt County.
“And acceptance, too, along those lines,” school-based mentor Katie Layman said.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day workshop typically is held during Steamboat Springs’ Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department School Days Off program at Soda Creek Elementary School. But Moyer said because Hayden students were in school Monday, they decided to move the workshop this year.
The school-based mentors, who work with middle school students in the Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt school districts, led seventh- and eighth-graders through the workshop in the morning.
Eighth-graders Taylor Lewis and Laura Johnson said their activities emphasized communication skills and respect.
“I think it was a good experience,” Laura said. “I think it helped us learn how to work with each other better and be more respectful.”
Seventh-graders Kenny Corriveau and Zoe Flannery said they didn’t necessarily learn anything new but the activities reinforced what they already knew about King.
“Without him, I don’t think we would be where we are today,” Zoe said. “I think we would still be discriminating against people.”
Hayden Secondary Schools Principal Troy Zabel said the school-based mentors workshop replaced instruction students typically would receive about King on Monday. He said the workshop was important for an isolated community like Hayden because the students have limited exposure to diversity-related topics.
“We’ve always highlighted things within general classrooms, but this is real specific exposing kids to diversity, which our kids have a lack of,” he said.
“To really get to the detail they’re doing it with, I think is super important.”