This year, Rye Country Day School will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during a new all-school program called Social Impact Week. The week will consist of special programming examining themes of activism, citizenship, and community, including the virtual Day of Action for all students and families, a panel of alumni of color for US and MS students, social impact crafts, and an all-community read-a-thon fundraiser for the immigrant resource center Building One Community in Stamford. The week-long celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Dr. King’s legacy is sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement and Social Justice, and it is the result of cross-divisional collaboration guided by the RCDS DEI Plan.
Identity and Resilience Alumni Panel
Social Impact Week programming began on Friday, January 15, when 5 alumni and 4 student leaders participated in a virtual MS and US panels titled Identity and Resilience. The panels were conceived by US student leaders, and the theme and questions were generated in partnership with MS student leaders. The discussions touched on issues of identity and advocacy as they pertain to the experiences of people of color at school and beyond. Many thanks to our featured alumni panelists: Ashley Richardson George '04, Thomas Alston '05, Vanessa Jackson '05, Deelan Ayhan '10, and Evander Jackson '17.
MLK Day of Action
On Saturday, January 16, RCDS students of all ages, families, faculty, and staff were invited to participate in the MLK Day of Action, a virtual event honoring Dr. King. The event featured remarks from Margarita Zimmerman from Building One Community, a resource center for immigrants—and one of RCDS’s valued community partners. Ms. Zimmerman touched on issues of immigration as they relate to Dr. King’s message of social justice and civil rights. Next, US students read "Martin's Big Words" by Doreen Rappaport. The event concluded with a craft activity where families created bookmarks with quotes or drawings inspired by Dr. King. The read aloud and the bookmarks served as a fitting kick-off for the All-Community Read-a-Thon, also a component of Social Impact Week.
During the seven-day read-a-thon (January 16 to 23), students, parents/guardians, and employees, will read articles, chapters, and books, watch videos, and listen to podcasts that celebrate the spirit of Dr. King and examine social impact, activism, citizenship, and community. To support the event, RCDS Librarians compiled helpful resources and suggested sources, which can be viewed here. Once the total number of units (articles, chapters, books, videos, podcasts, etc.) is tallied, sponsors will donate a certain amount per unit. The final Read-a-Thon proceeds will be donated to Building One Community.
Lower School Rock Painting Activity
Also, during Social Impact Week, Lower School students will participate in a division-wide rock painting activity affirming Dr. King’s message of community, empathy, love, and humanity. The painted rocks will be donating to Building One Community’s new garden.
Social Impact week is a heartening reminder of the power of community, the importance of active citizenship, and the potential of the positive change we can effect when we approach others with empathy, examine local and global issues, appreciate differences in opinion, recognize and resist stereotypes and bias, and embrace and understand the importance of diversity.