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HCC honors King

January 20, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was a turning point for Hagerstown Community College, where classes were canceled for the first time so students could participate in a variety of events honoring the slain civil rights leader.

For the college, it was more than a celebration.

"Today is a historic day for the college in acknowledging the work Dr. Martin Luther King started," said psychology professor Vaughn Crowl. "And the re-enactment of the 'I Have a Dream' speech was powerful, it brought a tear to your eye."

The dramatization was performed by Ekklesia Ministries Pastor Darin Mency of Hagerstown.

HCC President Guy Altieri let out classes for the first time to recognize the slain civil rights leader and to share his teachings with area students ranging in age from 10 to 21.

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Despite the cold temperatures and icy roads, students and some parents attended workshops led by HCC professors, including Michael Parsons.

"Dr. King's solution to many of the problems of the country had to with education" said Parsons, adding "What better way to get the message across?"

HCC student Alexis Gregson used art to teach younger children about King's ideas.

"We have a hand print mural to teach kids about different colors and unity showing how all of us can work together," said Gregson, who helped develop the program's curriculum.

In a separate workshop, HCC drama professor Michael Harsh challenged older students to discuss King's impact on their lives today.

HCC basketball player Terell Kittelberger, of Rochester, N.Y., took part in the discussion and commended King for his work, but said there's still a lot to do.

"It's our job to keep everything flowing until blacks and whites are on the same page," Kittelberger said.

Michael Franklin, whose wife and children attended, said he found the workshop insightful, stressing the importance of youth like Kittelberger understanding what life was like during the civil rights struggle.

"Life isn't all about the bling, bling and the NBA. My grandfather lived to be 100 years old and he told me stories about the protests and police using dogs against protesters," said Franklin.

Altieri urged the entire community to embrace the holiday honoring King, who was assassinated in 1968. He said the holiday isn't just for African-Americans, nor is it a religious holiday or one reserved for those who lived during the 1960s.

"It's the one American holiday that focuses on the intrinsic values of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights," said Altieri.

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