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Mesa students honor MLK’s life and legacy


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  • Lynda Jordan/Mesa Public Schools

MLK Jr Art HP

Mesa Public Schools’ Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration includes a banquet, parade, festival, candlelight prayer service, basketball classic and presentation of awards for outstanding student achievement in writing, art, oratory and multimedia contests.

Mesa students will be honored for excellence in academics, athletics and the arts during Mesa’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. They will also pay tribute to the civil rights movement, the concept of unity within diversity and the common interest of seeing justice prevail for all citizens.

Mesa students honor MLK's life and legacy MLKJrMaddyWillisArt

In the primary category, first-grader Maddy Willis of Hermosa Vista Elementary will receive an honorable mention award for her MLK artwork titled “Helping Each Other.”

MLK activities, Jan. 18-20, include a banquet, parade, festival, prayer service and basketball classic:

  • Banquet: 6-8:45 p.m. Jan.18, Marriott Hotel, 200 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, $45 (reserve your place)
    Mistress of ceremonies: Susan Casper of ABC-TV’s “Sonoran Living”
    Guest speaker: Art Hamilton, voted one of the 10 best legislators in Arizona history
  • Parade: 11 a.m.-noon Jan. 20, route on Center from Third Place to First Avenue, Mesa
    Including: Red Mountain and Skyline high school marching bands; Westwood High Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Interact Club, New Global Citizens and SPARK Club; Mesa High AVID, football team, Students Helping Out (ShOUT) Club; Dobson High Home Economics Related Occupations (HERO) Club; Longfellow Elementary School; and MPS students in the Mayor’s Youth Committee, Mesa Sister Cities Program and HOBY Horizons; community members, business supporters and civic leaders
  • Festival: noon-4 p.m. Jan. 20, Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St., Mesa
    Featuring: food, live music, dance performances and family activities
  • Interfaith Candlelight Prayer Service: 1-2 p.m. Jan. 20, Nesbitt Playhouse, Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St., Mesa
  • High School Basketball Classic: 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, Grand Canyon University, 37th Avenue and Camelback Road, Phoenix, admission $7 for students and $10 for adults (see the schedule)

Student competitions in writing, speech, art and multimedia 

Mesa students honor MLK's life and legacy MLKJrAmberLooperArt

Amber Looper, will receive the first-place award in the intermediate art competition. Amber attends sixth grade at Salk Elementary School.

Almost 600 students throughout the district entered writing, oratory, creative art and multimedia competitions based on the “Many Faces, One Community” MLK theme. The Curriculum and Instruction Center provided students a wealth of resources.

Writing, art and multimedia entries were judged on criteria such as creativity, originality, positive message, theme and alignment with academic standards.

Speeches were judged on attention-getting introduction, development of theme, elaboration of main points, closing, originality, pitch and volume, tempo and fluency, appropriate gestures, pronunciation, enunciation and length.

Award presentations at the MLK Festival

During the MLK Festival, winners will receive plaques, certificates and medallions at an awards ceremony set for 2:15 to 3 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Mesa Arts Center’s Nesbitt Playhouse, 1 E. Main St., Mesa. (see the winners)

Superintendent Michael Cowan will present the awards. Cheryl McCaw, curriculum specialist, coordinated the contests. “The competitions highlight students’ creativity and understanding of what it truly means to be “Many Faces, One Community,” McCaw said.

Mesa’s MLK Celebration Committee comprises Valley volunteers who are dedicated to preserving King’s philosophy of peace and equality. Committee members who work for Mesa Public Schools are Cliff Moon, Carson Junior High counselor, MLK Celebration Committee president; and Andrea Murphy, Westwood High social studies and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher, MLK Parade coordinator.