Upper School Students Attend Annual MLK Symposium

Upper School English Teacher Evan Benedict ’04 and Library Assistant & International Student Advisor Laura Morse took seven upper school students to the fourth annual MLK Symposium “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere” on Jan. 20, at Episcopal High School in Alexandria. The students who attended—Victoria Hargrove ’20, Jesse Mirman ’20, Sylvia Mack ’20, Grace Lyden ’21, Gabby Guirand ’22, Abby Carlsmith ’22 and MaryAnn Woodruff ’23—came back to Norfolk Collegiate with a refreshed perspective on what it means to be a community.

The event is sponsored by the Office of Community & Equity who say it’s “a campus-wide initiative to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate his legacy and ideals.”

The goal this year was to gather an array of people and perspectives to build toward a greater understanding of King’s role in the lives of modern Americans. The conference also aimed to foster talks about justice at home and on a larger scale and where conference-goers sit in that community.

Students heard from keynote speaker Ibram X. Kendi, the National Book Award-winning author of “Stamped from The Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist,” who discussed the importance of strengthening communities and schools.

“I like that it gives students an opportunity to turn a critical eye to their own environment,” said Benedict. “I like that it motivates them to be socially active, that’s obviously very important. Watching them come back from those sessions with that reinvigorated fire is rewarding and worthwhile.”

Gabby attended two sessions that impacted her.

“The first group I went to was about women in the civil rights movement. The second was about these guys who use music in poetry to make poetry and percussion,” she said. “I learned a lot about how lesser known figures used their privilege—or lack thereof—to support others and make change.”