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Greencastle students to honor King's legacy by helping less fortunate

January 13, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Greencastle-Antrim High School students, from left, Ethan Koons, 17, junior; Jonathan Biles, 16, sophomore; Meghin Sweitzer, 17, senior; and Stephen Herman, 17, senior, stand in a high school stairwell in front of Martin Luther King Jr. posters.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — While other students in Franklin County enjoy a day off from school on Monday, Greencastle-Antrim High School student Meghin Sweitzer will sit in class learning about Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy.

Greencastle-Antrim is the only Franklin County school district holding class on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"I think it's good for us to come in. If we were just sitting at home, we wouldn't even care. It would just be a day off that we could sleep, but we're actually doing something to portray his legacy and doing what he wanted people to do," said Sweitzer, a Greencastle-Antrim High School senior.

To commemorate the holiday, teachers throughout the school district will teach students about King.

As a service project to honor King, Greencastle-Antrim High School civics classes are collecting canned goods, paper towels and diapers to give to the New Hope Homeless Shelter in Waynesboro. The shelter currently has 16 residents.

William Burcher, shelter director, said he's grateful Greencastle-Antrim High School students are keeping King's legacy alive by helping those less fortunate.

"Martin Luther King not only advocated civil rights, but he also was involved in domestic issues. He strove to overcome poverty of all people, and poverty is the major cause for people entering a homeless shelter," Burcher said.

Items will be collected at the following Greencastle's boys basketball games today:

  • Seventh-grade game at 4 p.m. at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School
  • Eighth-grade game at 5 p.m. at the middle school
  • Junior varsity game at 6 p.m. at Greencastle-Antrim High School
  • Varsity game at 7:30 p.m. at the high school

Students and spectators who bring an item will receive $1 off admission to the game.

Community members can donate items to the shelter by dropping them off at the high school on Monday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to donations, students in Family Consumer Science classes will make casseroles and lasagna that several G-AHS civics students will serve to shelter residents on Monday.

"We are grateful that the Greencastle students chose us for this project to provide the canned goods to help feed the residents at our shelter. We provide an evening meal at the shelter every day of the year. This is only accomplished because of the generous donations of time and resources of many people in our community like the students at Greencastle-Antrim High School," Burcher said.

"The whole reason that Martin Luther King fought was for rights. He wanted the people who were poor to be able not to live in luxury, but to be safe. He wanted them to actually work in society and be able to fit in," Sweitzer said.

For Ellen Kirkner, high school civics teacher, coming to school is a teachable moment for her students.

"On our days off we don't tend to think about why we have the day off. It's just another day off. So, to have those students in school enables us to have access to the kids to say, 'Hey here's what Martin Luther King did. Why are we studying him? What is his legacy?'" Kirkner said. "I think his message is really important today of solving problems through non-violence. I think that message is something we need to be reminded of."

Students and Teachers Achieving Results through Service sponsors the service projects. Six civics students — elected by their peers — serve on the committee, comprised of teachers and students, formed to incorporate service learning into the curriculum. STARS activities have been funded through a federal and state Learn and Serve grant that the high school received this year.

"He (King) tried to bring people out of poverty. Hopefully by serving people that are homeless ... will make the connection between what he stood for and the actual actions of serving those who are less fortunate. I want them to make that connection," said Kirkner.

Before moving to Greencastle three years ago, sophomore Jonathan Biles, 16, lived in Florida and was off school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"I don't mind coming to school on Martin Luther King Day. I feel like if we didn't we wouldn't be learning anything about him, because if I was home on Martin Luther King Day, I would probably sit home and watch TV or play video games," Biles said.

Greencastle students attend school on two holidays: Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

"I think it's good to come to school for Martin Luther King Day and Veterans Day because we learn how he (King) fought and persevered to get his civil rights movement and to move it along to make sure everyone had equal rights during that time period.

"He set the stepping stones for future people to fight for civil rights," said junior Ethan Koons, 17.

Kirkner already has more students than she needs to help serve food at the shelter on Monday.

"It's nice to see the students' enthusiasm for helping. I think they want to contribute, and I think sometimes they don't have opportunities to do that," Kirkner said.

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