Service: Do We Truly Acknowledge Our Core Values?


Matteo Romano, Staff Writer

This past Monday, everyone at ODA, and the rest of the nation all had a day off from work or school. As it has been every year since 1986, the third Monday of January was celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. At ODA, though, there was a fairly low level of celebration, other than a short video in our advisory period which was was not even viewed by all groups.

The movement for a federal holiday in honor of King had been in the works since the late seventies, but the bill that was introduced to the House of Representatives in 1979 did not garner the type of support needed for it to pass. Eventually the holiday was pushed ahead by the organizations like the King Foundation, and in 1986 students and federal employees first enjoyed a day off in recognition of the famous civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even though this was a federal holiday, according to Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “It always seems like Martin Luther King day is the first one they are willing to give up.”

Some schools are even choosing to stay open on this day, for various reasons such as making up for time lost during winter storms or by finding a loophole in local law. There are differing opinions on how to handle the day. Some think staying open is good, as there can be guest speakers, while others think that there should be the national day of service.

At ODA, some watched a short video on MLK. Outside of school, a few others have had more immersive experiences. On his way to a friend’s house, junior Garrett Luhmann unexpectedly found himself at a small MLK celebration in the community. 

“It was pretty interesting. We were getting a lot of weird looks, because we were the only two white people there. It was the first thing I’d been to for MLK Day in a while,” says Luhmann.

“It was interesting, because it was just a parade of ads, and there were only two actual floats for MLK… it didn’t feel like MLK Day,” says Garrett.

According to the King Center, however, the day is supposed to be a day of service. Despite this, many workers and students are still not given much information about MLK or encouragement to go out and do service for the community.

At ODA, most students say there was not a lot of attention given to the holiday. The school didn’t organize any events but left it up to teachers to have more organic discussions about MLK.

“It’s been left to us as individuals to do anything,” says Upper School English teacher Mr. Robert Naylor. As far as he can remember there has never been any sort of organized celebration, but he and some others have tried to shed light on the topic to students in talks in class or advisory groups.

“This year I talked for a couple minutes in advisory… It’s been individualized, spur of moment things,” says Naylor.

Sophomore Phillip Cecil voices the thoughts of many students.

“A few years ago, I went to his [MLK’s] house, but I haven’t done anything since then,” says Cecil. Other students, however,  managed to find time to learn about MLK on their own outside of school.

“I respect him a lot. I tried to learn about him….I think it’s a shame that no one really cares about why we have that Monday off,” says Junior Jack Fenker.


Martin Luther King Jr. is obviously an iconic symbol of service for not just us here at ODA, but for Americans across the country. King embodies one of our core values at our school, and if this is so, why don’t we do more to celebrate his influence and legacy?

If we are really to adhere to our values, shouldn’t we do more to learn about a perfect example of them in Dr. King?