PDT Staff Writer
Wanda Dengel’s second grade class at Notre Dame Elementary performed “Our Friend Martin” commemorating the life and legacy of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The play took place at the Holy Redeemer Activity Center Friday.
For 20 years, Wanda Dengel, a second grade teacher at Notre Dame Elementary School, coordinated plays involving her students in commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This year of 2013, the tradition continued as students from Dengel’s class performed the play, “Our Friend Martin,” a four-act, 10-scene play, complete with a grand finale.
Dengel said the plays began 20 years ago as something that she had her students do in the classroom. Then it blossomed into a full-fledged performance, as the students expressed interest and asked to invite their parents and other family members.
“We started by doing the skits in a theater style, in which students would read the lines directly from the paper,” Dengel said. Pretty soon they started asking if they could memorize their lines.
Dengel said eventually she had each student to memorize their lines, and has been doing so ever since.
The students acted out scenes highlighting Dr. King’s life experiences as a young child dealing with the realities of racial segregation and discrimination.
The play also included King’s Birmingham Jail experience, Rosa Parks, and her historical bus ride in Montgomery, Ala., and King’s, “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.
Dengel said working with the children, and discussing the society ills of racial prejudice, discrimination, and segregation is extremely important.
“I want children to understand and accept differences and diversity,” Dengel said.
Dengel said hearing her students’ responses to what transpired in our nation’s history is heartwarming.
“It warms my heart to see how my students react, even as young children they know that racial discrimination is wrong,” Dengel said.
The audience full of parents and family members looked on as the play closed with the grand finale, singing the song, “It Could Be a Wonderful World,” an inspirational song that encourages acceptance and unity among all people.
The audience was invited by Dengel to sing along with the students.
One of the features of the event was the “Diversity Table,” which Dengel and her students assembled. The table is a collection of hearts which represent different races and religions, encouraging the acceptance of differences within society.
The program closed with a prayer circle, as Dengel, the students and members of the audience joined in a circle, holding hands with prayer.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org