Coloring with First Graders

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This past Monday was the annual Dr .Martin Luther King Jr. day of service for SCH Academy faculty, staff and students.  For the past thirteen years, along with the rest of the school community, I’ve been involved in service in some capacity. This year, I was fortunate to work with first graders who were busy producing one hundred-fifty nine dinners for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Cupboard.  I’m not somebody who would be considered a master chef, so I anticipated a role as a potato cutter, perhaps a meal bagger.  The menus were to include meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and dessert, each to be delivered to St. Vincent de Paul Food Cupboard later in the week for dispersal.  Word of my cooking skills must have traveled through the lower school grapevine, as I was offered a chance to work at one of the coloring tables where several first graders had already taken crayon to hand and were avidly drawing.

Within seconds I felt anxious; was this the way I used to feel in elementary school? I wasn’t sure which table to join because I only knew a couple of the students.  Apprehensively, I grabbed one of the pages with Dr. King quotes, a few crayons, and took the first open seat I could find.  Almost immediately, the girls began to include me in their conversation…are you the computer guy?…what’s your name?…what’s your favorite color?  Within minutes I was deeply immersed in a discussion about the new Katy Perry song—Roar, and I was able to hold my own despite our differing musical preferences. What was most evident and genuine was the way in which these young students welcomed me to their group with no hesitation or criteria of difference, a situation all too unfamiliar the older we get.  Hands down, the best part of my day was when the groups were switching rooms, young Cailyn (below) says I’m going to stay here so Mr. Day isn’t lonely...Dr. King would have proud…

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I was inspired by the girls dedication to the day of service—not once did I hear a complaint.  First grade teacher Stephanie Moore shared this video which resonated with the girls as each of them stepped away from their coloring activities to learn more about Dr. King and his work.  I ended up spending several hours coloring alongside while other classmates tended to the cooking and packing of meals.

MLK day is a day off from work or school for some…a day of reflection for others…but most importantly, a day of service and an opportunity to make a difference for others.  A morning spent coloring with first graders allowed me to step back from the daily minutia of my life for a few hours, and to be reminded that Dr. King’s work is not finished whatsoever. A very special thank you to the SCH Academy lower school faculty and students who helped make this a special day for me.

Take a look at this brief video of the students in action, created by Karen Kolkka.


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