Detroit Country Day kindergarten teacher Coleen Tarolli leads her students in a march at the lower school in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The march capped off weeks of lessons about peace, nonviolence, and respecting and being kind to others.

Detroit Country Day kindergarten teacher Coleen Tarolli leads her students in a march at the lower school in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The march capped off weeks of lessons about peace, nonviolence, and respecting and being kind to others.

Photo by Deb Jacques


DCDS kindergartners march for Martin Luther King Jr.

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 15, 2018

 Kindergarten teacher Sheryl Klinger and her students Alexa Meslemani and Alex Sanders lead the way during the fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march at Detroit Country Day’s lower school.

Kindergarten teacher Sheryl Klinger and her students Alexa Meslemani and Alex Sanders lead the way during the fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march at Detroit Country Day’s lower school.

Photo by Deb Jacques

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — The students at Detroit Country Day’s lower school do something special to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a march through the halls of their school.

The school administrators said this is a fitting tribute to King, whose contributions to the civil rights movement included a number of peaceful freedom marches, as well as a great tool for educating the students about both the man and his message.

“We are having a peace march, and the kids made banners on the themes of peace and love,” explained kindergarten teacher Erica Engler. “It’s extremely important to catch them at a young age, because they will see things in movies and TV shows that can show how words and actions can make others feel bad, and showing them kindness matters is important.”

The march took place on Jan. 12, and this is the fourth year the kindergartners at DCDS have participated in such a march. The students march through the halls waving banners and signs they made themselves and singing a song about King while the other classes line up in the halls to watch.

The march is the capstone of lessons given to the students in the weeks leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which includes both the history of the civil rights movement and the importance of concepts like peace and helping others.

“We’ve talked a lot about peace, love and friendship, and brought it down to a level they can understand,” said Engler. “We used the example in class that if you had one color eyes or wore one color shirt, you couldn’t listen to storytime or join in an activity. After that, we talked about how that made them feel.”

Engler and the other kindergarten teachers also gave lessons about the message of King, which included showing clips of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

“We really want students to learn what it felt like (to be) a child during that time period and what feeling accepted or not accepted feels like,” said Engler. “It’s so important to teach them that action and social consciousness is important. We even have one of our students using the peace sign he made in class in a march for King with his family.”

The school staff said that since modern politics and social discourse can often be so volatile, starting kids off with lessons about respecting others and sitting down and talking about differences can be incredibly important in their development.

“I think kindergartners have the best voice for peace,” remarked Lower School Director Jennifer Bullock. “They’re learning about friendship and being kind to others, (so) incorporating peace into that is great. The message of peace is such an important one for kids to learn early.”

The students voiced their enthusiasm for the program and said they learned a lot.

“I liked marching and singing,” said kindergartner Hunter Hayes. “It was very good because we were marching for freedom and Martin Luther King. Dr. King said we should be nice and responsible and friendly.”

DCDS teachers and staff hope these lessons will stick with the kids and grow as they get older.

“Everybody should be treated nice because back when Martin Luther King was alive, African-Americans had to stay on the back of the bus and drink from different water fountains, and he said that wasn’t fair,” said kindergartner Dylan Jones. “He said everything should be fair and no one should be treated differently.”