Students describe MLK Day speaker as ‘inspiring’ and ‘enlightening’Posted on 01/20/2020By Gary Weckselblatt
About 250 students and 25 teachers and administrators packed the Quakertown Community High School cafeteria this morning and heard from a dynamic speaker before heading out to various parts of Bucks County and the Lehigh Valley to serve their fellow citizens.
The district’s second Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service was a wonderful moment for those seeking to make a positive experience on others. And it began with a one-hour presentation by Dr. Veirdre Jackson, an award-winning author, educator, and entrepreneur who is recognized as a leading educational trainer in trauma-informed practices and cultural competence.
“When a school district allows young people to take leadership, the students believe they can have an impact and begin to think about who they can be impacting,” said Dr. Jackson, the CEO/Founder of Living Strong Consulting LLC and the Co-Founder of Fresh Fountain of Life Counseling and Wellness. “These young people are invested in the process and they are empowered. Results can happen in a peer to peer connection. Young people have the power to influence.”
Dr. Jackson said interactions between people can be powerful with life-altering consequences, adding that “while we are products of our past, we don’t have to be prisoners to it.” She urged students not to be silent or apathetic if they see something wrong, and often spoke of Dr. King’s message and of the importance of being “authentic, empathetic spirits.”
“We must look past our differences and allow ourselves to see each other. As you go out into the community, look for opportunities to close the gap between you and someone else. I ask you, ‘what is going to be your legacy?’ ”
Students said they felt the impact of Dr. Jackson’s words.
“She was so inspiring. Everything she said related to my life,” said Angelina Becker. “I will take this with me when I step outside of school and it will stick with me.”
Riya Sembhi said she “loved” Dr. Jackson’s presentation. “She made me more aware of the different classes and social structure. This was enlightening.”
High school teachers Bethany Fuller and Jen Stover, Peggy Smith of Trumbauersville Elementary School and Strayer Middle School assistant principal Kim Finnerty worked to develop the district’s second MLK Day event.
Students had several service options to choose from. The 10 possibilities included helping at the Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown, Hope ReStored Thrift Store, Phoebe Richland Retirement Community, First Church of the Brethren, Trumbauersville Food Pantry, Pennridge FISH, NOVA Thrift Shop and LifePath. Strayer Middle School students also hosted elementary school students with storytime, and others worked in the high school Cyber Commons on filling Easter eggs for Quakertown Borough and making Valentine’s Day cards for nursing home residents.
High school assistant principal Jennifer Carolla said she was proud of the planning done by teachers and the enthusiasm to serve shown by students. She also praised Dr. Jackson’s presentation. “It’s a humbling feeling to reach inside yourself and have self-reflection because that’s when true change occurs and you can make an impact on someone else’s life. That’s what this day is about. Let’s pay it forward.”
Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.