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Hogsett video call with J.H. Atkins

Just because students didn't have school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day doesn't mean they didn't learn about the man himself before their long weekend. On Friday, schools celebrated Dr. King's life and legacy in unique ways, including through a video call at Mary G. Hogsett Primary School and in classrooms at Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School. 

At MGHPS, Danville City Commissioner James “J.H.” Atkins, who has a career background with Danville Independent Schools, made a special video conference call to classrooms during special classes, like art, music, Spanish and others. Many students sat cross-legged on the rugs of their classrooms and waved at Atkins as he joined the call. 

He shared history about King and his own experience as a Black man growing up in Lexington during segregation. Students asked Atkins questions, like how it felt to be separated and what it was like on playgrounds and in schools during segregation. 

One student asked if Black and white children played with different toys, to which Atkins responded that Black dolls and other toys were rare, so many Black children grew up playing with toys that depicted white people and children. 

Teachers did a lot to prepare for his virtual visit. Their students had been reading books and thinking about questions they had for Atkins about the Civil Rights Movement and King. 

At Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School, some creative lessons were taking place in individual classrooms.

Michelle Coffman’s second-grade classroom, for example, learned about King from a book and other educational materials. Then they broke into pairs and got very hands-on with some eggs. 

Michelle Coffman

Coffman

They compared white and brown eggs from the outside, noting they were different colors, then cracked them open to see the eggs were the same on the inside. Coffman encouraged them to write and share about how this idea connected to people — that everyone looks different from the outside, like the varying shades of their skin, but inside they are all the same. 

In Kristi Sigola’s third-grade classroom, students listened to and read aloud “My Brother Martin,” written by King’s sister, Christine King Farris. The students also watched a tour of King's childhood home from the National Park Service, listened to the “I Have a Dream” speech, and wrote their own dreams they have for the world, which they shared with the class. Sigola said she was going to compile the dreams together into a class book as well. 

Kristi Sigola

Student dreams

  • black history
  • Danville Independent Schools
  • hogsett
  • martin luther king jr
  • mlk day
  • toliver