“Entire Hyla Middle School to March on MLK Day”

School-wide action part of three-day, intensive course on freedom and justice
Press release – January 10, 2011

Bainbridge Island, WA – While thousands of students take Martin Luther King Day off, every Hyla Middle School sixth, seventh and eighth grader will spend the day “on,” marching for equality and justice. On January 17, 2011, eighty-five Hyla students will travel with teachers and staff to Seattle’s Garfield High School for the MLK rally and march to the Federal Building.

“This is the first year we’re doing this as an entire school community,” said Hyla Head of School Thomas Weber, who is joining in the march. “Our message for our students is: You can join with others and act on issues you care about. We believe our students will gain a deeper understanding of the First Amendment if they experience it.”

“I’m excited to be marching,” said Hyla eighth grader Emma Spickard. “The idea of all these people unifying around one cause – it will be so cool to see that actually happen. We’ll be part of a bigger thing.”

Hyla’s school-wide participation in the march is part of a three-day intensive study course on social issues, known as Hyla’s “mini term.” Spearheaded by Hyla English teacher Kimberley Trick, mini term each year focuses on a significant social issue and engages students in active participation. This year’s focus is “ensuring freedoms for all people.”

“It’s important middle school students are engaged in tackling some of our community’s most pressing issues and learning how to become involved,” said Trick, who is a member of Seattle’s MLK Celebration Committee. “We believe it will make them better citizens.”

To prepare for the march, students watched the “Citizen King” documentary and examined King’s work. After the march, they’ll break into groups and study six student-generated topics, including discrimination, equal access to education, religious freedom, freedom of self-expression, poverty and homelessness, and oppression. Their study will culminate in a school-wide presentation on student action plans around each issue.

“I’m excited and curious,” said eighth grader Kanen Rose, who is inspired by Marth Luther King to “vie for the people who aren’t free in the world.” Said Rose: “Dr. King stood up for the people he cared for and made things happen.”

Hyla Middle School is an independent, co-educational school for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. Located on Bainbridge Island in Washington’s Puget Sound, the school engages students in a strong academic program specifically designed for the learning stages and social development of middle school students. Its experiential learning environment, founded on close, caring connections between teachers and students, helps students grow as individuals with integrity.