Even though today’s students were born decades after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968, his example still provides inspiration.
Seventy-four Frederick County students were recognized for their achievements Tuesday night during the school system’s 23rd annual ceremony honoring the legendary civil rights leader at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick.
“We are here tonight to celebrate the qualities and beliefs that Dr. Martin Luther King taught us to embrace,” county Schools Superintendent Theresa Alban said.
Four elementary schools performed musical selections during the “From Vision to Action” ceremony, including “You Are Our Hero,” sung by students from Deer Crossing Elementary School in New Market, and “Down by the Riverside,” performed by Urbana Elementary School students.
For the King awards, each school in the county selected a student who conveyed responsibility, caring, fairness, trustworthiness, citizenship and respect. Each of the recipients received a medal and a certificate.
“We have to always be inclusive in everything that we do and celebrate our accomplishments,” Maria Whittemore, county schools minority achievement coordinator, said of the program.
Monday marks a federal holiday in King’s honor.
David Carlisle, an Oakdale High School junior, said that King’s legacy is more than just a chapter in his school history book but a source of motivation.
“I wish that [Dr. King] could have seen how far we have come and how much the black community has accomplished,” he said.
Carlisle, an honors student and a National Society of High School Scholar, helped to preside over the ceremony, with the help of Oakdale High School students Kieanna Moore and Maryah Wright.
“It’s good that we can all come together and honor such a great person,” said Hailey Johnson, a junior at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School. “In school, you learn about the legacy of [Dr. King], but you never learn what it really means and how important it is. This teaches us that.”
This year’s ceremony was dedicated by the school system to the memory of Lord Nickens, 99, of Frederick, a civil rights leader who died Jan. 4.
Nickens served as the president of the Frederick branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for more than 20 years. He also fought for fair housing rules during the civil rights era.
A street in Frederick was named after him in 2009.
“Like Mr. Nickens, Dr. King was a visionary who initiated numerous actions to make America a better place for all of us,” Whittemore said during the event.