Students remember Dr. King’s dream

HOUGHTON – The members of some of the organizations at Michigan Technological University thought it would be a good idea to create a project which would help students understand an important part of American history and get a university experience at the same time.

What the Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, (GEAR UP) and MiCUP (Michigan College/ University Partnership Program) organizations came up with was a project for ninth-grade students at Dollar Bay High School which had them examine the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The students who created the top three projects received $100, $50 and $25. After a tour of the Tech campus, the winners were announced in the ballroom of the Memorial Union Building.

Kelli Raffaelli, assistant director with CDI, said this was the first time such a project was done, and DBHS was chosen because of an existing relationship.

“Our MiCUP students tutor the Dollar Bay students,” she said. “We wanted to create more community involvement.”

Raffaelli said although the idea to have the students do something with King was hers, the details were an effort of CDI, GEAR UP and MiCUP.

“We worked out the ideas together,” she said.

For the project, students could create a video or some other electronic presentation, a collage with pictures and quotes, a poem or a spoken word performance, or some other idea approved by a teacher.

There were 24 DBHS students involved with the project, and Raffaelli said she was impressed with the results.

“In the end, I was surprised how many were into it,” she said.

Jesse Kentala, DBHS guidance counselor, said school officials were open to the King project because of the relationship between the Tech students and DBHS students.

“They do an incredible job preparing our kids for college readiness,” he said.

The students had just two weeks to work on their projects, Kentala said. The research was done mostly using the Internet in the Dollar Bay computer labs with help from GEAR UP members.

“There’s a lot of information out there (about King),” he said.

Kentala said he expects DBHS will work on a similar project in the future if the members of GEAR UP want to do it again.

“This is a great way for our kids to be connected to a college campus,” he said.

Friday, Kentala said the DBHS students also toured the chemistry, materials engineering and fine art classes at Tech.

Liz Fujita, GEAR UP assistant coordinator for youth programs, said she thinks a project similar to what was done for King will be done again.

“We’ll probably pick a different theme so we can keep it fresh,” she said.

The first, second and third place winners of the King project were Libbi Rogan, Anne Greub and Abel Iacono, respectively.

Iacono, whose presentation was a collage poster, said he was aware of King before he took part in the project.

“I knew he had a dream,” he said.

Iacono said he learned King worked for equal rights for all Americans.

Greub said before the project she knew a little about King.

“I knew he was for peace and equal rights for everybody,” she said.

By doing her project, Greub said she learned how important faith was to King.

Rogan said she learned King was also working for justice for workers of all races.

“I learned he spoke for equal rights for more than just African Americans,” she said.

The projects will be presented Monday during an MLK banquet at Tech.