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MMS Students Silently March for MLK Day

For the 13th consecutive year, students march through downtown Maplewood in commemoration of Dr. King's birthday.

For the 13th year in a row,  Maplewood Middle School students, faculty and staff participated in the Michele Turner Annual MLK Silent Peace March on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

"It's a powerful statement of unity and what a community can do to try to represent an ideal," said Grade 6 Team Teacher Richard Palmgren, who spearheads the event.

When he first came up with the idea thirteen years ago, "No one thought that 800 middle school students could be silent for five minutes let alone an hour," said Palmgren. "Silence is a very loud statement."

The students assembled outside the school shortly after 9 a.m. and began their march through Maplewood Village and back under a frigid but crystal clear sky.

Police cars blocked off Maplewood Avenue as the students filed by, some carrying homemade signs. Passersby stopped to watch.

This year for the first time, students assembled in the auditorium after the march to watch Dr. King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech on two large screens. (In past years, they had watched on televisions in their classrooms).

The students sat quietly, raptly focused on the screen and following along on printed copies of the speech. The only sound was the simultaneous turning of 800 pages.

At the speech's conclusion, the students burst into applause.

Palmgren pointed out that this is the 50th anniversary of the speech, giving the event a special resonance. He said that next year, he would like to have a guest speaker, perhaps someone who had marched with Dr. King.

Principal Truppo, who led the students in the Pledge of Allegiance, asked them to think about what the speech means to them. "What have we achieved...what do we still need to work on?" he asked.

With that, he asked the students to walk, silently, back to their classrooms.

Carolyn Maynard-Parisi January 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM
OK, think you're missing the point. You might want to direct further comments to the school administration.
Erin January 19, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Wow, these students are going to be great leaders one day. I'm proud of them for braving the cold weather to show that the dream lives on. To the individual commenting above, if a parent had a problem with their child out in the cold, it is their decision to speak up and have their child stay indoors. And by the way, it's one of the most famous speeches they watched, not a movie. And yes, if they want to march in a blizzard on President's Day in the name of justice and equality, I'd cheer them on. Building leaders starts now and Maplewood is doing a great job.
Irene Langlois January 20, 2013 at 06:28 PM
My kid marched and I'm happy she did. It's truly an inspiring sight to see. Perhaps next year more adults will line the route and warm the kids with their support.
lorraine labonne-storch January 21, 2013 at 03:07 PM
I was at my office in the Village during the march and I am very happy I had a chance to witness it. I did not see children complaining of the cold. I saw children united in tribute to a great and important leader in our nation's history. The march was symbolic, to be sure. But I can't help feeling that the students gain just a little more understanding each time they participate.
Truth Hurts January 22, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Will they be marching through town on Presidents Day as well?

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