On January 17, the Penn Charter community observed its 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, a "hybrid" event that included virtual learning sessions, on-site service work and at-home projects in support of community partners.
The day began with a virtual convocation featuring a welcome from Parent and Caregiver Community co-chairs Darryl Brooks and Rhowshad Hammond, poems and quotes from fifth grade students, and remarks from Head of School Darryl J. Ford.
Fifth graders then introduced keynote speakers Tamir Harper and Priya Ahmad OPC '18, young community leaders who spoke about their work in activism and social justice. Harper is co-founder of UrbEd Inc., a nonprofit that combines community organizing and policy to uplift and educate students and communities; Ahmad is senior senator for the Associated Students of Occidental College, diversity and equity coordinator for the Economic Student Association, and the equity and access intern for the Office of Admission.
"Education gives us the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of systems in our country and to recognize that there is always more work to be done," Ahmad said during her remarks.
Following the convocation, families were invited to attend learning sessions led by students from all three academic divisions:
- Food Sovereignty in Philadelphia (12th grader Amani R.)
- Georgia Gilmore, a Hidden Figure of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (fifth graders Aliyah M., Molly W. and Thierry F., and Alyson Goodner, director of the Center for Public Purpose)
- Human and Civil Rights Movements in America During the 20th Century (Upper School history teacher Bhelly Bagbonon)
- Water Protectors and the Dakota Access Pipeline (12th grader Jack L. and sixth grader Addie M.)
More than 170 families participated, with more than 80 volunteers visiting community partner sites like DePaul House, Historic Rittenhouse Town and Share Food Program. Others took on remote work from their homes, making 46 meals, 151 hygiene bags, 215 seed packs, 186 book bundles, 19 blankets, 61 clothing packs, and over 200 cards and crafts.
Aly Goodner, director for the Center for Public Purpose, was pleased by the enthusiasm of the PC community, which she said has embraced this new iteration of a longstanding tradition: "Our families have shared that the time together at home allowed them more space to talk about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and think about ways they can honor his legacy of justice and peace in their lives."