Quakertown students give back in MLK Day of Service
Date of publication: January 21, 2018
By Jamie Stover
Channel 69 News, WFMZ-TV
QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - More than 200 students in Bucks County traded a day off from school for a day of service.
While the Quakertown Community School District did not have classes on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the high school cafeteria was packed with students as early as 8 a.m.
"I'm more proud than I think I could possibly express," said teacher Rachel Girman, who helped coordinate the forum.
The students gathered to hear a presentation by MLK Scholar Greg Edwards, also a pastor in the Lehigh Valley.
Edwards spoke about MLK's legacy and encouraged students to radically stand up against racial inequality and discrimination.
He told students that standing silent in the presence of injustice can serve as permission for such behavior.
Edwards brought to light past racial incidents, and also touched on ones in more recent memory, including in Charlottesville, Virginia and right at home in Quakertown.
"The challenge is not to make your worst moment your most defining memory," Edwards said to the students.
Last October two Quakertown middle-school students were suspended for hurling racial slurs and rocks at a bus full of Cheltenham cheerleaders.
Cheltenham is majority black, Quakertown mostly white.
"You can't just let something like this happen and go unnoticed, and do nothing about it," student Jake Berton said.
Since last year, the district has been implementing discussions surrounding race.
A committee also got together to plan the district's first MLK Service Day.
After the morning forum, students broke out into groups and headed to different places in the community to devote their time.
A little more than a dozen visited Phoebe Ministries in Richlandtown to spend time socializing with senior citizens.
"We are willing to take responsibility for actions that weren't necessarily our own and try to right wrongs," said student Maggie Claghorn.
"We had the opportunity for that to be a defining moment or a stepping stone, having us grow from that incident, I really think our school district came together," student Jollyfisher Ekpe said.