Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Not Just a Day, But a Diversity and Inclusion Mindset
Featuring Fonati Abrokwa ’01, MHS Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day is a single day across the country to celebrate and reflect on the legacy of the late Dr. King and his fight for diversity and inclusion and so much more. Here at Milton Hershey School, we have a unique opportunity to do more than just celebrate and reflect. We can take steps together to learn and grow in a diverse environment and to challenge our thinking, not just on MLK day, but every day.
Leading up to MLK Day, students, faculty, and staff were focused on learning and serving inside and outside of their classrooms. In Elementary Division, students colored pictures of themselves, focusing on their unique visions of themselves. This activity, now displayed in Memorial Hall, gave students the opportunity to share their authentic selves, while celebrating the differences we all share.
It’s not just current MHS students who partook in this learning opportunity. A handful of alumni joined Middle Division classes on Tuesday to share their experiences and to encourage the next generation of empathetic and just leaders. At this event, students and alumni explored topics around civil rights, community service, and voting rights.
Two MHS high school students also used their voices to ask thoughtful questions to Joseph Robinson, Executive Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Development Institute, during a tribute event hosted by Hershey Area All Things Diversity.
In addition, students and staff across campus read culturally-focused materials and engaged in structured lessons and conversations to understand why we celebrate MLK Day. Also, to tie in values-based learning, The Compass Project curriculum for the week focused on how we can use Dr. King’s life and legacy to understand forgiveness.
Carving a Path for DEI
For the MHS community, celebrating MLK Day does not just happen once a year. We are committed to the continued evolution of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) framework and strategies.
“Across our school, students and staff participated in activities that drew inspiration from the life and lessons of Dr. King,” shared Fonati Abrokwa ’01, MHS Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion. “From poetry readings to service projects, our MHS community is embracing Dr. King’s example in ways that elevate equity, respect, learning, and understanding—themes supported by our MHS Sacred Values.”
However, the work doesn’t end there. Abrokwa and her team of Cultural Ambassadors work tirelessly each day to make space for productive, compassionate, and effective conversations around DEI inside and outside of the MHS community. From expanding MHS Learning Experiences to launching a new student group focused on celebrating cultural differences, providing leadership opportunities, and more, the DEI initiatives across campus are well under way. The DEI team and subcommittees continue to assess our programming with the goal of completing all observations by the end of the 2021-22 school year to help establish next school year’s focus areas.
Our MHS Sacred Values, character-centered curriculum, and DEI focus allows for our students to grow into well-rounded and caring individuals who just like Dr. King are ready to make their mark on the world.