For Kids, By Kids: What we did on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

What I did on MLK Jr. Day

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day at 11 a.m., most students are still in their PJs at home, but not the students at The Learning Community School. We [helped] one of six organizations: Full Moon Farms, Brother Wolf, Homeward Bound, Asheville GreenWorks, Highland Farms Retirement Community or Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center. You see, here at my school, we do things a little differently. Instead of having a day off on MLK Jr. Day, we have a day of service. …

For my work on MLK Jr. Day, I helped to perform a play and sing “This Little Light of Mine” at Black Mountain Neuro and Highland Farms. This was an enlightening experience for me because of what I realized during our performances. I think that working to put a little light in other people’s lives is something that makes an enormous difference in the community we live in. Being at Black Mountain Neuro especially opened my eyes. It made me realize that not only are we performing a play about MLK Jr., we are letting these people know that we appreciate their presence as well. — Mira Carlinnia, eighth grade, The Learning Community School

Clearing brush

On the morning of Martin Luther King Jr. day, a portion of our school packed [into] cars and drove to the boondocks of Full Moon Farms, [a sanctuary for wolf dogs and captive-bred wolves]. Last year a storm covered [its] logging road with brush, and corresponding to last year we were going to hack and slash at it again. …

After meeting and greeting some adorable wolf dogs that momentarily broke our intention on serving, we got our game faces on with our deadline, which was to clear the entire road. [I became] the tree remover, consisting of me pushing trees down the hill, which was pretty entertaining, unless I found some creepy crawlies in the tree. After around two hours of work, we hit our deadline. The road was cleared, and like any movie, it happened at the perfect time. While walking down the cleared road, I looked over my shoulder and felt accomplished, an overall good vibe that would trail with me for the rest of the day. …

(Art by India Jade Nell)

Usually if I was asked to do service, I would try as politely as I could to say no. If they challenged my authority by asking why, I would quickly rush out bad excuses. In those situations my mouth doesn’t quite reach my brain’s standards of speech, so I might say some random remark. Although I might have second thoughts about service even now, due to the addiction of laziness, it was a good experience. I learned things about the work, and about the intentions. I had fun making the bond of the community stronger by volunteering. — Jack Munn, eighth grade, TLC

Miller Lite, cigarette butts and motorcycle helmets

“Look at this bad boy!” [classmate] Quinn yells as he hoists our trophy into the air. The plastic glistens in the sun like a gem. Beer cans fill the motorcycle helmet to the brim with crumpled metal.

During service day at my school, a group of students, including me, from The Learning Community School in Black Mountain, went with the Asheville GreenWorks [volunteers] and cleaned up Martin Luther King Jr. Park in downtown Asheville. We pulled everything from cigarette butts to motorcycle helmets out of bushes and bleachers.

The time began to fly by as I delved through the bushes with my friends and pulled out beer cans. We all did our share, and we all had fun doing it. Usually when people think of community service, they think of it as a federal punishment. Yet, after my experience at [the] park, I would find it fun to do more community service and I would love to do it again.

At first, my friends and I went there a little skeptical about how enjoyable it would be, but we all left changed and wanting to do more. Our teachers had to drag us out of the park and shove us into the vans to get us to leave. We will all remember that day for a long time, but what I will remember most is that we weren’t the only ones there making a difference. There were others; both the Asheville GreenWorks and Christ School were here making a difference. It means a lot to know there are people who care. — Nicky Anixter, eighth grade, TLC

Our elders

I hadn’t even started kindergarten when we moved my great-grandmother to a nursing home in Asheville. I vaguely remember going to visit her in what seemed to be the “common room” full of women and men in wheelchairs and walkers. At the time, I didn’t understand why everybody wanted to talk to us, tell us stories, hold our hands and smile into our youthful eyes.

There was one woman who sat us down in front of her wheelchair every time we would visit and tell us the same story about her granddaughter. When it came time to leave, she would give us a hug and kiss, telling us how much she loved us. Frankly, I found it awkward and slightly creepy. Looking back, however, I am happy that I could have brightened an elderly woman’s last days.

Since then, I have gone to sing several times with my school’s chorus at Deerfield. Instead of getting out of school on MLK Jr. day, we do service projects around the community. For two years in a row, I have gone to Highland Farms. What I cherish most about these experiences are the conversations that I have and the stories that I hear. Stories about children, grandchildren or the fact that they are going to turn 97. I always feel that those stories, no matter how hard to understand, have made me a little bit wiser. … — Joy Siler, eighth grade, TLC


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.