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Breidablik celebrates tolerance in honor of MLK

POULSBO — “... And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last!” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I have a dream” speech at the nation’s capital.

Breidablik Elementary School joined in the celebration of those and all words of Dr. King Jan. 12 at the Breidablik gymnasium — recreating the messages he emanated through performing arts while observing the enormous effect one man had on the world.

As part of a character assembly entitled “I Will Be Your Friend,” all three multi-age music classes came together to sing songs of freedom in front of Breidablik’s students, teachers and parents with the help of guest guitarist Curtis Culwell.

The choir of about 30 singers opened the assembly with a song called “What Can One Little Person Do?”

Messages of empowerment and tolerance rang through elementary voices as the children sang to an audience of their peers. But in the face of others, Breidablik Elementary singer Geordie Garten wasn’t nervous.

“I learned a lot of new songs and I learned a lot about melody and harmony,” Garten said.

And the messages of the songs symbolized acceptance of the values that Dr. King spoke of nearly half a century ago. “Part of the assembly was about Martin Luther King Jr. and another part was about accepting all people.”

Along with promoting the variety of people this world has to offer, the assembly also embraced a variety of art forms and each used a different voice to convey similar messages to the audience.

“One of the things we try to do is understand that music is not the only art available,” said Breidablik music teacher Cindy Gilman. “We all learn through many different venues.”

Interspersed throughout the assembly’s musical lessons, small groups of students spoke of virtues through written word and poetry in motion.

A group of girls — from Dr. Gail Davis’ Reader’s Theatre — dressed in black and recited the story “A Hundred Dresses,” based on the book by Eleanor Estes. The story imparts the value of accepting a person for who they are, not what they have. Another ensemble from Sue Mace’s class acted out the Bible tale of the Good Samaritan, who stopped to help a downtrodden man he found on the street.

And the last small ensemble performance featured an interpretive dance as Ashley Cole and Shantell Leany recited a piece of Langston Hughes’ poem “Dreams of Youth.” The choir followed singing “We’re all one family... fill the world with dreams of harmony tonight,” through Joanne Hammil’s song, “Dreams of Harmony.”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams were emulated not only throughout the assembly, but also during the months of rehearsal in which the classes prepared for the performance. The students began working in November, Gilman said, adding that she had seen the kids begin to realize the messages which they were projecting.

“Before the performances, we went through (the text) and we talked about what it was saying and what it means,” Gilman said. “This assembly pulled it all together.”

The finale of the assembly, “Let Me Be A Light For Hope,” pulled together the message of the day through a filter of how people as individuals can make changes in their own world to contribute to the greater good of all people.

“Hopefully, you can take a piece of what you’ve heard and put it inside (your heart),” Gilman said in closing.

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