Why We Should Have School on Martin Luther King Day

by Alanna Brown

Long weekends are amazing. They give you a great opportunity to get work done and plenty of time to chill or hang out with friends. Long weekends before tests? Wonderful. Long weekends with no homework? Bliss. Now that we’ve established that I love long weekends as much as the next person, hopefully you will hear me out when I tell you why we should have school on Martin Luther King Day.

HB is a wonderfully diverse place, and we talk pretty candidly about issues of race. For that, I am very grateful. The era of my middle school Black History Month presentations seems like a distant memory in a place where race is explored year-round. We all know who Martin Luther King, Jr. was and what he did, but I question the amount of people who take the day named after him seriously.

I will be the first to admit that I enjoy school-free Mondays, and the thought of volunteering when I have piles of unfinished homework on my desk seems crazy. But Martin Luther King Day should not be a day off, but rather a day “on.” We as a nation should work to help those in need, to honor the memory of Martin Luther King did. Not only are we remembering his legacy, we are carrying it out.

In the past few weeks, I had been hearing commercials on the radio about where to go volunteer. That sparked a thought: how many teenagers actually consider doing service on Martin Luther King Day? When my friend asked if I wanted to volunteer this past MLK day, I was surprised that someone would want to spend her day off volunteering, and the fact that I did not consider this request as commonplace worries me. We went to the public library to sort books with one other volunteer. One.

I have faith in us teenagers. HB has an amazing Service Learning Center that does a lot to help the community. I just wonder how many students actually do service on a day that was set aside for it. Maybe if school were still in session, we could have a kind of service-heavy Legacy Day, taking the guesswork out of finding a place to volunteer. Either way, Martin Luther King Day is a holiday that we should celebrate and continue the work of MLK, and let’s be honest – homework is no way to celebrate.

I love four-day weeks and long weekends. They break up the monotony of constant five day weeks and give us a chance to procrastinate for a little longer. But MLK Day is one long weekend I could do without. Spending the day doing service is rewarding, and I promise you will not regret it. School on MLK Day would give us a chance to volunteer without wondering what options are available, and to celebrate the holiday properly. I know that all of us have the motivation and ability to do great things for our community, and this is one way in which we can start creating this positive change.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.