By Jodie Aakko – Brighton, Colorado … “My role as a young person [is] to support and promote social justice to help out with community service and telling others to not judge people from the outside,” Elid Provencio, fifth grader at Brighton Adventist Academy (BAA) reflected after a day of community service events to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. at BAA.

The academy staff and students celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a “day out” in the community, rather than a “day in” at school.

The CHERISH (Christ-centered, Honor, Exploration, Responsibility, Integrity, Service, Heroism) core values shine brightly in the mission and purpose of  Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership; therefore, the day provided an excellent opportunity for the students to put the values into action.

To begin the day, the student body assembled for worship which included a personal, inspirational message presented on video from Dr. Alexander Bryant, president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Bryant shared his personal testimony, and highlighted the lives of Martin Luther King and Joseph from the Bible.

“I thought it was very cool because it meant a lot to us for him to make a video for us even though he lives near Washington, D.C. and has a bigger job to do. He told us to dream big with God’s plan,” Gizelle Luna, seventh grader said.

After worship, students spread into the community in groups to participate in Covid-safe outdoor community service projects.

One group circled Brighton Care Center to visit residents through the windows. The senior citizens’ faces beamed with jubilation and glee as students held up signs, called out greetings, sang songs, and jumped for joy. “It was fun to make people feel better even though we were seeing them through the window,” Liliana Marr, fourth grader exclaimed.

A few miles away, another team presented congratulatory posters to the Platte Valley Medical Center for sixty years of service, along with a basket of treats for the doctors and nurses. One poster spotlighted doctors and nurses as super heroes for their work during this pandemic, while another poster featured young students’ praying hands.

“It was nice that the doctors and the nurses and the directors came outside to meet us. I appreciate that they help keep us safe,” Kierstin Syvertson, seventh grader, stated.

A final group of students created personalized greeting cards for many Brighton church members who need a little bit of cheer during the current pandemic. Each card was safely hand-delivered with roses, and the surprise visit was complete with pleasant front-porch visits.

The day concluded back at BAA with a variety of learning activities and projects on Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, and the lives of famous Black Americans. Some students studied King’s speech, “My Life’s Blueprint”, and Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” while others were challenged by guest speaker Debbie Jackson, director of the Park Hill Pathfinder Club, to be a part of social justice today.

Jackson reminded students that King was a dreamer of what others could not dream.

–Jodie Aakoo is principal of Brighton Adventist Academy; photos supplied