MADISON, NJ - Madison Public Schools commemorated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Monday by having a single session (half day) filled with special programming for students while staff stayed on for a full day consisting of afternoon specialty sessions. 

Torey J students (3-5) were treated by the PTO Cultural Enrichment Committee to an assembly conducted by Drew University theater graduate, Shakur Tolliver, who read Dr. King's speeches and led the students in discussions, while at King Road School students attended a school wide program of inspirational videos and grade level poster project discussions. Elementary students at the three schools were provided lessons for teachers to conduct as classroom activities. 

Madison Junior School, MJS (6-8) hosted the second annual "Compassion Through Action" program.

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Following a school wide assembly program, students in grade eight participated in several workshop discussions led by a wide range of adults working to advance the cause of human justice.

"The Compassion Through Action program provides an opportunity to highlight the ongoing quest for human rights seen in the efforts of our workshop participants, with the earlier crusades of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King and Nelson Mandela," said Dr. Mark DeBiasse, Humanities Supervisor. 

"The eighth grade Social Studies curriculum was revised last summer to incorporate a sustained focus on the enduring challenge of ensuring basic human rights throughout the world. An exit project is also planned that will ask students to focus on a specific human rights challenge in one of the regions they studied during school year, with a primary focus on Africa and Asia," DeBiasse added. 

"While the focus of the day is primarily about ways we can advance the cause of justice and human rights in America, the link to our grade eight World History and Cultures curriculum is significant," said DeBiasse.

MJS students in grades six and seven also attended the morning assembly program to set the stage for MLK Day inspired lessons in their social studies classes.

 "We received very positive feedback during the inaugural run from students, parents and teachers at the middle school," said DeBiasse.  "MJS faculty members John Ciferni and Caitlin Young have done a wonderful job organizing the Compassion Through Action program at MJS."

At Madison High School (MHS) teachers in all social studies classes prepared lessons and activities for students designed to reinforce Dr. King's message and contribution to the evolution of a democratic society.

MHS faculty and staff went on to participate in one of two professional development experiences for the afternoon. The program included to volunteer service at a variety of local non-profit organizations or to participate in student-led, small group discussions about how a more inclusive climate and culture at MHS can be created.

"These discussions have been organized by student leaders and faculty advisors from the relevant extracurricular clubs. Ideas generated from these discussions will help to inform ongoing program evaluation and goal setting at MHS," said DeBiasse.  "MHS faculty Jason Ellrott, Ann Vilarino and Nancy O'Brien have been instrumental in preparing their respective clubs for the faculty-student discussions and Joe Cecala and school nurse Diane Fastiggi have worked hard to coordinate the faculty service option."

Faculty at the elementary schools and MJS attended sessions for professional development on dyslexia, tech integration and PARCC action plans to name a few. 

There has been borough controversy over the decision by the Madison Board of Education to not provide a full day off for faculty and students in observance of the Martin Luther King Day holiday.  The half day session for students has now been in place for its third year.  

"The Martin Luther King Day programming in Madison Schools was robust with its many diverse offerings and engaging opportunities to honor Dr. King.  Students heard from local university professors, educational leaders, community members and peers who are researching, collaborating and problem-solving for social change.  Follow-up student reflections and discussions led by our teachers were rich with ideas to lead as global citizens.  It is with great pride that I serve in the Madison Learning Community, " said Diane Schulthes, Director of Curriculum and Instruction.