SBHS students gather to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Monday, January 18.

PACT Hosts Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Event

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Thursday January 28, 2016

Monday, January 18, Parents and Adults Celebrating Children and Teens (PACT) held its second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day event. Created to honor Dr. King, the event was conceived by South Burlington High School (SBHS) students on a PACT retreat in 2013.

PACT Advisory Board member, SBHS junior Drew Coel, took the reins for the occasion. She began the day with a brief introduction and quoted the man of honor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Coel then introduced fellow juniors Isaiah Hines and Madi Premsagar, creators of the SBHS Student Diversity Union. Their newly formed club aims to provide a safe space to discuss discrimination, racism, and prejudice on a local, national, and international level.

All attention was then directed to SBHS senior and Big Picture student, Cyrus Brooks, who showed his short documentary, My New Home. Big Picture South Burlington is a proficiency-based school within SBHS that supports student learning through hands-on, student directed opportunities. Brooks’ film features 2013 SBHS graduate Deo Pokhrel, telling the story of how his family immigrated to the United States in 2008 after spending 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal (available on YouTube).

Next, sophomores Kiran Waqar and Lena Ginawi along with junior Ali Barritt discussed the Syrian blanket drive. Their project received attention from Vermont Public Radio and Governor Peter Shumlin, and received generous donations from several local companies and individuals. They explained that the purpose of the drive was to help displaced Syrian citizens while their country is in turmoil, and to combat Islamaphobia by giving the community an opportunity to meet SBHS students who are practicing Muslims like Waqar and Ginawi.

Public Issues and World Affairs (PIWA) students contributed to the event by presenting their community projects within small groups. Afterwards, time was designated for group discussions pertaining to inclusion, and the future of our society.

The SBHS’ Key Club was next on the agenda. The group handed out cards and asked everyone present to write positive messages for children at the Vermont Children’s Hospital in Burlington. Simultaneously, it was mentioned that senior Big Picture student, Simon Walter, had drawn the outline for a mural in one of the cafeterias in an attempt to make it livelier. Community members were recruited to help paint and volunteers were invited to prepare lunch for delivery to Burlington’s Turning Point Center, which supports recovering addicts.

The event was a success according to PACT Co-Chair Susie Merrick, who deemed it a very special day, and said she was so grateful for this beautiful community. She extended her gratitude to SBHS, Big Picture South Burlington, the SBHS Key Club, Student Diversity Union, and National Honor Society, as well as community partners the South Burlington Recreation Department and Community Justice Center.

SOURCE: Ali Barritt, SBHS CDC Correspondent