SCOTTSBLUFF — I have a dream to be a scientist, a teacher, a professional soccer player, a mom.

Students at Longfellow Elementary celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by learning about his life and how his dream continues despite his assassination.

First-graders in Angie Shaw’s class learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and how his voice continues to make a difference in the classroom. Monday, students read books and completed activities related to King. Students learned how King became a civil rights leader and spoke about his dream that one day his four children would live in a nation where they were not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

“He matters to me how kids can go to different schools with white and black people together,” said first-grader Eliseo DeLosSantos. “It wasn’t like that in the old days.”

DeLosSantos said he also learned that King was shot by fugitive and felon James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Without the freedom march and sit-ins, the students shared how people could not attend the same churches, schools, or use the same bathrooms as segregation continued to divide people.

“If he wasn’t born, I wouldn’t have a best friend in school because my friend has different colored skin,” said Oliver Rock.

The students completed an art and writing assignment. They traced around their hands and created a cutout to accompany a pledge. The hand stands for how King did not use violence to make his dream come true. Students wrote, “I will not use my hands or my words to hurt myself or others.”

From the discussion of King, the students celebrated him for his efforts to save future generations from harmful actions and bring people together.

If the students had the opportunity to speak with King, Kinley Kuxhausen said she would tell him “thank you for stepping up and your bravery.”

After learning about King, Shaw said, “I hope my students learned the importance of accepting others for their differences and to appreciate the sacrifices and the determination that Martin Luther King Jr. gave to our future children.”

Through the sacrifices and words of King to fulfill his dream, he gave future generations the ability to dream.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.

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