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Students and teacher honored at One Dream MLK event

Celebration meant to honor King’s legacy, inspire current students
Senior+January+Jackson+speaks+at+the+event+on+Jan.+18.
Maya Smith
Senior January Jackson speaks at the event on Jan. 18.

Lawrence High School seniors January Jackson and Danny Phalen, along with special education teacher Heidi Woods, were honored for their community contributions at this year’s One Dream Martin Luther King Celebration. 

These recipients were specifically chosen for this honor due to their embodiment of the event’s “Together” oriented theme, which was chosen by the district’s Student Equity Council to mark the 60th Anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Jackson, who was also hosting the celebration as part of their involvement in the Equity Council, was surprised by the unexpected news of winning the LMH (Lawrence Memorial Hospital) Health Award.

“I didn’t think I was going to win it because I felt like that award usually goes to grown-ups or doctors, especially because it was labeled LMH, and I didn’t find out until the end of the actual celebration,” Jackson said. They kept it a secret so I found out at the end of it in front of everybody.”

Jackson, who’s also a participant in the Young Woman of Color Club and LHS Theatre, hopes to use the momentum brought about by this award in order to further advocate for marginalized student groups.

“There is a lot of bullying and discrimination that still happens that I think gets ignored because we’re in this new generation of people that are so-called inclusive but not everybody is,” Jackson said. “A good majority still aren’t and so I just want to work hard to open people’s minds up, whether that be through my theater performances or through speeches or any essays I write.”

Heidi Woods, who won the coveted Keeper of the Dream award due to her equity work in the district, has a similar goal in mind. She seeks to reach that goal by analyzing behavioral and academic data in order to ensure the equal treatment of USD 497 students.

“I automatically try and look at things not just from a white perspective,” Woods said. “It’s just become part of my life, just looking at having courageous conversations about race I’m not scared of.”

Woods, who also worked on a Ci3T tiered student support system for the district, is proud of her recognition.

“It’s amazing to be recognized, to have my name anywhere around Martin Luther King Jr,” Woods said. “It’s a true honor.”

Phalen, meanwhile, won the Keeper of the Dream award through his heavy involvement in student council, IPS, LHS Journalism, and The Lion’s Roar video announcements. Phalen uses these extracurricular outlets as a way to spread messages of kindness, acceptance, and teamwork around the student body.

“I like to part things out, get everyone involved, and make sure everyone feels included in the decision-making process,” Phalen said.

Phalen believes that the LHS social climate played a part in why he was given this award.

“The fact that we have IPS, video, such a strong journalism staff, I think it made it real easy to find a kid at our school,” Phalen said. “I think there’s tons of kids that could have won and I’m happy that I was the one but I think there are a lot of kids that reflect that and I think it’s just a schoolwide thing.”

Despite these different backgrounds and perspectives, the one thing that all these award winners have in common is a respect for the late Dr. King and his civil rights activism.

“Dr. King, certainly to me, means hope,” Woods said. “He represents hope to many.”

Overall, Phalen hopes to continue Dr. King’s strong legacy.

“I think it’s a very important thing for us to revisit and learn about every year,” Phalen said. “Just don’t let that get lost to time, keep learning about MLK, keep talking about that legacy and all those things.”

Jackson admired King’s non-violence philosophy in particular, emphasizing its historical importance and misinterpretation.

“I think the reason that he’s probably one of my favorite civil rights activists is because he was more about peace than violence and I think a lot of people misconstrue that today,” Jackson said. “What we have to understand is that he doesn’t mean violence didn’t happen, minorities did experience a lot of violence and he was very aware of that. He just knows that we can’t combat it with the same thing and it’ll just keep going and so I think I’m really inspired by that.” 

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About the Contributors
Jonas Lord, Managing Editor
My name is Jonas Lord and this is my third and final year in journalism. I'm a managing editor who has primarily worked as part of the LHS Budget, all while contributing to the yearbook and social media. When I'm not working on journalism, I'm working on the Lions Roar as a segment contributor. I also draw, edit, make music, and eat large amounts of breakfast cereal. Emails for questions/inquires: [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] Link to my Soundcloud: https://on.soundcloud.com/2xFwh
Maya Smith, Red and Black Co-Editor in Chief

I am a second year editor-in-chief of the Red and Black Yearbook and have been on staff for three years. I am considered a jack of all trades - I take photos, write, design, and do lots and lots of live reporting. When I’m not working on journalism, I’m a part of IPS, Student Council, Unified Sports, Link Crew, and Hang12.

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