At Powhatan School in Boyce, these words echo its mission of  “We learn not for school, but for life,” with an authentic focus on the character of the school’s community. While in many businesses or organizations, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed as a holiday or day off from work or school, Powhatan recognizes the importance of giving back, and students spent the day serving others.

The morning of January 18th began with a traditional Monday gathering where all students and faculty discussed the life and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This set the stage for a day of volunteerism by the entire school community.

Kindergarteners read I Dream for the World and shared their own dreams for the world, then, traveled to Winchester Book Gallery to purchase books for donation to Healthy Families Northern Shenandoah Valley.

First Grades read and memorized part of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, staged peaceful protests of students’ choice during the day, and supported on their classroom philanthropy, the Water Project, by engaging in a week’s-long water challenge.

Second Graders studied the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and collected, assembled, and packaged trail mix for lunch bags to share with local churches and the Kitchen of Hope in Winchester.

Third Graders collected travel size toiletries to make Blessing Kits consisting of personal hygiene products to distribute to the homeless.  Third Graders also connected their reading and writing to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other service initiatives.

Fourth Graders read biographies, stories, and plays about integration and took a field trip to the Josephine Street Museum in Berryville to chronicle the history of school integration in Clarke County.  The grade will continue its connection with the museum later in the year by organizing a fundraiser to support the museum.

Fifth Graders continued their year-long partnership with Christ Church Cares Food Pantry by collecting and preparing food for distribution.

Sixth graders provided care packages to Another Chance Church and wrote inspirational notes for the homeless.

Seventh graders picked up trash and recycling along Route 723 and beautified the Powhatan campus.

Eighth graders traveled to Winchester to assist with children’s activities at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, read to children at the Winchester Day Nursery, assisted people at the Adult Care Center, and worked at the SPCA Thrift Shop.

As Dr. King said so eloquently, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

With their strong focus on character and service, Powhatan School students will surely be able to meet that challenge.