Students at State College Friends School are not strangers to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
And it’s a day that fits with the school’s mission.
Director of Advancement Lori Pacchioli said the school bases its education on SPICES: Smiling, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship.
“With our foundation of Quaker testimony, we focus on social justice and equality like Martin Luther King (Jr.) based his life, and that underlies how we treat others,” she said. “So it’s important to see the small things we do can lead to really great things. The core of our teaching is peacemaking.”
While a number of schools are not in session Monday, students at the Friends School will celebrate the day.
Students will wear white shirts, dark pants and a black tie to school to commemorate a unified appearance.
At 9 a.m., the 120-member student body will gather at Friends Meetinghouse on Prospect Avenue for a presentation about the life and work of King, including footage of his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Pacchioli said the students will then sing and have time for silent reflection.
Once they return to school, all students will work on a writing and art project relating to King and the civil rights movement.
Pacchioli said the writing project is based on words that represent King, and is tailored to students with different learning levels in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“From a young age, the kids are hearing and talking about these words they pick, and are living by them,” Pacchioli said. “By the time Martin Luther King (Jr.) Day is here, they are acquainted with the meaning and representation of them and have a time to reflect. We do it in a way kids of all ages can understand.”
At 1 p.m, middle school students will participate in an abbreviated performance of “King in Montgomery — Ten Years in the Nonviolent Civil Rights Movement” a musical written by former head of school Larry Boggess.
The work features dialogue, role-playing and original songs about peace, equality and determination, Pacchioli said.
That performance will be held again at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of State College Friends School, 1900 University Drive.
It includes students from the school’s Peace Choir and the State College Community Choir.
Free to the public, Pacchioli said by the end of the night, she expects people to be on their feet swaying to the music.
And she hopes that following the performance, people will walk away with “courage and optimism.”
“It’s really inspirational,” Pacchioli said. “And there is an important message of social justice and equality that’s done in a way all people can understand.”