Members of the Williams College African dance troupe Kusika take a bow after performing at Williamstown Elementary School on Friday.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Pupils at Williamstown Elementary School were reminded Friday that the upcoming long weekend is not all about fun and games.
Principal Joelle Brookner told the third- through sixth-graders attending a Martin Luther King Day Jr. assembly that Monday is a national day of service and encouraged them to follow the national theme that Jan. 20 be "A Day ON, Not a Day Off."
"What can you do to be 'on?' " Brookner challenged the children. "What can you do for others? Some of us are really good at doing humongous things, but it's not only the humongous things that matter.
"On Monday, do something for others."
Then, after pausing a beat, she added with a smile, "That's a little bit of homework. I'm sorry."
The school opened the holiday weekend with reflection and celebration. The children were treated to performances by three Williams College song and dance groups: the a capella group The Accidentals, the African dance troupe Kusika and the step team Sankofa.
Williams College sophomore Mia L. Knowles also read her reflection on the life of Dr. King.
"Today, I cannot say his dream has been realized," she told the children. "What I can tell you is that his dream lives on.
"I have my own dream today. Today, I hope you realize how special you are. My dream is that one day you'll be able to tell people you made Martin Luther King's dream come true."
The assembly was organized by Marcela Villada Peacock, the program coordinator of the Davis Center at Williams, an office that focuses on diversity issues.
As part of the curriculum at WES, fourth- through sixth-graders created original works of their own to talk about King's legacy. The fourth-graders made posters. The fifth-graders wrote poems. And the sixth-graders wrote essays.
The poems were displayed Friday morning in the auditorium for the assembly, and six children read their poems and essays: fifth-graders Charlie McWeeny, Clary McWeeny and Jayden Johnson and sixth-graders Lucy Shepard, Helen Greenfield and Maya Choste.
The poem and essay of Johnson and Choste, respectively, were chosen by Williams students to be read at the college's Martin Luther King Day celebration on Monday.
Peacock told the pupils about how the annual assembly at the school came into being and about how she first was inspired by King as a child growing up in Mexico.
And she, too, issued a rallying call.
"Every year, you should think about some service for the community," Peacock said.
She then had the children read aloud a quote from Nelson Mandela: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."