Celebrating MLK Day at GSHS

Potential exists for South Gibson School Corporation to have the day off in future years


Tiffany Absher

Freshman Drew Castillo enjoys his “I Have a Dream-cicle” while learning about Martin Luther King Jr.

Eva Spindler, Copy Editor

Monday, Jan. 16, marked Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January each year. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a civil rights activist who advocated to end racial segregation through nonviolent means. 

Gibson Southern High School was in session January 16, unlike many other schools in the surrounding area. This stirred up a multitude of reactions amongst students at Gibson Southern.

“I feel like it’s (not having MLK Day off) disrespectful towards MLK and everything he worked for,” sophomore Olivia Cox said.

The 2022-2023 school year schedule was not created by current superintendent Bryan Perry. However, Perry does have the ability to make decisions on future school years’ schedules.

“That (having MLK Day off) is something that has been brought to my attention, and we’re investigating,” Perry said. “Ultimately, it won’t be my final decision, but we are looking at the possibilities of what it could look like.”

When creating the school calendar, there are parameters that the school board must consider. Some of these requirements include 180 school days, a reasonable start and stop time, appropriate holidays and two relatively equal semesters. Due to these guidelines, giving MLK Day off could cause the schedule to change in other ways.

“You have to have 180 days, so that day would be somewhere else,” Perry said. “You could look at when you start school, you could look at other breaks. Any day off could, conceivably, be a snow make-up day.”

Some teachers around the school adapted their lesson plans to educate students on King. Life Skills teacher Tiffany Absher worked with students on many activities centered around King.

We completed an ELA reading comprehension activity geared towards better understanding Dr. King’s trials and tribulations,” Absher said. “That afternoon we watched ‘Our Friend, Martin,’ a movie which takes two teens back to the life and time of MLK. While watching, we enjoyed some ‘I Have A Dream-sicles’ (creamsicles).”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was finally approved as a federal holiday in 1983, and all 50 states made it a state government holiday by 2000. (Tim Simons via Pexels)

Students could also view displays set up by librarian Kara Martin in the library. Gibson Southern’s history teachers educated classes on King as well.

“Mrs. Martin in the library did some displays in there,” principal Jon Adams said. “It’s got quotes and Martin Luther King’s speech. Our history teachers were going to focus on that (MLK Day) as well.”

King was a Baptist minister who became well known for being a civil rights leader in the 1950s and ‘60s. He is most remembered for aiding in events like a 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama as well as the March on Washington in 1963. King played a significant role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

Four days after King’s assassination in 1968, congressman John Conyers introduced legislation to make MLK day a federal holiday. However, the first MLK day was not celebrated as a federal holiday until 1986. It then took another 14 years until the holiday was recognized by all 50 states.

Several staff members at Gibson Southern recognize the importance of MLK Day.

“The meaning of this day is a day of service,” Adams said. “You are encouraged to spend your day bettering your neighbor. So, what can we do as students and staff and human beings to make our neighbor’s life better? That’s the way that we look at it.”

“I think that it is important to better educate our youth on our history,” Absher said. “MLK had a profound impact on civil rights. Even though it may have not had a direct impact on each individual student, MLK’s contributions to better our country is something everyone should appreciate.”