(Image courtesy Young Achievers)
Students from the Young Achievers Science and Mathematics Pilot School in Mattapan celebrated the spirit of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by giving back to the community.
More than 500 of the K-8 school’s students and over 100 of its teachers and staff fanned out across Mattapan on Friday to spruce up street corners, visit sick children, build displays at the local library, and talk with area seniors, the school said.
“Martin Luther King gave his life to make the world a better place, and more fair for all of us,” Virginia Chalmer, principal of the school said in a statement. “Part of honoring his legacy is giving service to our community. Today is a day that we commit all of our time and energy to make the world a better place close to our school.”
Each student volunteered about four-hours of their time Friday, with the school totaling close to 2,500 hours of service, said the school.
Students performed for seniors at the Foley Residences, stenciled art on the school’s lockers, and made flower pots for the neighborhood.
In addition to lending a hand throughout the community, the school also used the day to put its eighth-grade students in leadership positions, overseeing the younger students’ work.
Dimitri Moore, an eighth-grader at the Young Achievers who worked with the school’s second-grade students at the Mattapan Community Health Center, said the student’s energy was exciting.
“They’re very energetic, but they like using their energy to help people” he said in a statement. “Most of them were not afraid to approach people. I think that’s what leaders of the future really need. It inspires me. These kids have so much confidence in themselves, and they have so much change in them—it shows me that I’m still young and I can still change the world as I am.”
Although the day of service, the school’s first, was prompted by the late civil rights leader, administrators at the school also saw it as an opportunity to civically engage their students.
“We work hard to teach students the idea of responsibility so it not only strengthens their learning but also strengthens their sense of community,” Carol Murray, assistant principal at Young Achievers, said in a statement. “We develop projects so kids become and see themselves as leaders in their community. Then when there is a problem in the community—rather than internalize and feel poorly about it—they have a means for thinking about ways they can participate in changing it.”
A number of organization helped support the school’s day of service including the Boston Nature Center, Boston Police Department B-3, City Councilor Charles Yancey Office, Colorado Street Neighborhood Association, Foley Senior Residences, Haitian Adult Day Center, Mattapan Community Health Center, and the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition.