Lawrenceville Honors MLK through Community Service

Members of the Lawrenceville community honored Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this past Wednesday with the annual all-school day of service.

Members of the Lawrenceville community honored Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this past Wednesday with the annual all-school day of service. 42 different groups of students and faculty members served a total of 30 different organizations, such as schools, community centers, food banks, and soup kitchens.

On this year's MLK day, Director of Community Service Program Rachel Cantlay P'07 '09 '11 said, “Students learned and accomplished a lot, and the feedback was really good.”

The MLK day speaker, Yvonne Proverbs '00 Proverbs '00 delivered a presentation on the necessity for students' “dreams to have legs,” as she believes that dreams should not only fulfill our[one's] own passions but simultaneously serve other people.

Reflecting on the speech, Pashmina Khan '21 said, “Being engaged with the speaker allowed me to reflect on my dreams. Her ability to connect with the audience was helpful and unique because most speakers talk about their own lives and don't tend to connect with the audience.”

On the other hand, Chris Delaney '20 did not feel this same connection with the speaker: “To be honest, I get that the School wants to bring a variety of speakers with a variety of political opinions to campus. However, I feel that her injection of politics was not necessary. Even though she was trying to be fun, I found her presentation fairly unprofessional on something that should be a fairly serious issue.”

Students and faculty served through organizations throughout the Mercer County area. The Woodhull House helped Mercer Street Friends Food Bank with packaging foods for kids who are on free or reduced lunch. Students set up an assembly line and packaged foods including cartons of milk, mac-and-cheese, and oatmeal, which kids would eat over the weekend. On the experience, Witt Philips '22 reflected that although the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank is doing great work in providing this food, “the foods are highly processed and unhealthy, and therefore, [the experience] was a sort of wake up call that tells us how much further work we should do to get everybody to eat healthy food that they are entitled to.”

Members of the Carter House volunteered at HomeFront, sorting living necessities and donations by Amazon. Carter Community Service Representative Jacqueline Chen '21 said, “It was a rewarding experience because although we weren't directly interacting with the HomeFront community, we are aware of the benefits that our community service would bring to the HomeFront community.”

To provide context for their work, Carter members visited the HomeFront family campus to learn about the various programs and initiatives that the organization offers its members. Chen reflected on learning more about the organization and meeting HomeFront volunteers: “Visiting the campus opened my eyes to the lives of the other members of Mercer County,” she said.

Chair of the Science Department Ilana Saxe and the Stem You Can club worked with three different classes of fifth grade students on two physics challenges involving paper airplanes and balloon rockets. The goal of the project was to offer Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM) opportunities to underprivileged children through interactive lesson plans. The students learned how to record their engineering process on their design notebooks and read the biographies of two famous, underrepresented minority scientists.

Saxe said, “It was amazing to see Lawrenceville students and kids interacting with one another and to see the kids challenging themselves through repeating trials over and over.”

One of the additions to this year's MLK Day schedule was the reflection period with advisee groups that followed shortly after students completed their service.

Reflecting on the newly implemented reflection period, Tiara McKinney '21 said, “It allowed us to not only digest what the speaker said and realize the importance of community service but also to reflect on Martin Luther King's legacy.”

In preparation for next year's MLK Day, the Community Service office plans to gather students' thoughts on the reflection period and allot a time period during school meetings to inform the community on various service opportunities. Lastly, the office is aiming to implement a period on MLK day before engaging with the community to discuss students' goals and the implications of their service, ultimately providing greater depth to their experiences.

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