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The Episcopal School in North Philadelphia

Celebrating the 3rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service became a monumental time in the school’s history. In comparison to the incredible historic nature of the day — including the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., 150 years since Emancipation Proclamation passed, and the 2nd inauguration of our country’s first African America president — ours was relatively quiet, but we were proud to note our growth.

On January 17, 2011, St. James School hosted about 84 volunteers. This year, we saw 22 students and teachers from William Penn Charter School, a number of members from St. Asaph’s Church and Saint Mark’s Church (Center City) and a handful of people from the neighborhood totaling over 100.

The morning began with reflection and prayer surrounding America’s great leader of civil rights, with folks breaking off into groups, each taking on the cleanup of our area’s streets and lots. The morning was not without energy and events as many of the groups experienced acts of general kindness and thanks for the work being done. St. James School students prepared over 80 snack bags for guests at Saint Mark’s Soup Kitchen while the adults took on several projects within the school building. By noon, all groups returned from the blustery cold with filled bags and empty stomachs.

Ms. Annie Lerew, 5th grade teacher at St. James, took the time early morning to setup a whiteboard and placed a projector connected to a laptop with wifi connection in the school’s basement. As folks arrived for lunch, the inaugural events were streaming live for all to see. Everyone gathered quickly and quietly just in time to see President Obama sworn in for his 2nd term, and the students sat on the floor, close to the board, watching as he delivered another empowering speech about the future hopes of America and the need for the public and the Congress to work hard for us all.

Penn Charter students joined St. James School students just after lunch for a time of football in the backyard.

Thanks to all for their great work and service at St. James School’s 3rd Annual MLK Service Day! We’ll see you again next year.