MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Students and staff from Maplewood Middle School (MMS) participated in the 17th annual Michele Turner Martin Luther King, Jr. Silent Peace March on Friday morning, Jan. 13.
The march began on the sidewalks surrounding MMS, continued through Maplewood Village, then returned back to the front of the school. About 800 students and staff from MMS participated. Many of the students carried homemade signs about the day, Dr. King and peace.
The march was initiated 17 years ago by MMS sixth-grade teacher Rich Palmgren, who continues to organize it each year. Led by Palmgren, the march stepped off from the Baker Street side of the middle school building, continuing under the train trestle to Maplewood Avenue. The march then turned onto Maplewood Avenue, and up the hill, crossing to the other side of the avenue before returning to the steps in the front of MMS.
Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca marched along with the MMS students and faculty, who were protected from any traffic by members of the Maplewood Police Department.
According to the organizers, the "march is in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and achievements. This unique silent march should help people reflect upon a man who was committed to fighting nonviolently for equality and peace. His vision of America is indeed responsible for the diversity we so richly enjoy in the Maplewood community and school. We are not only honoring the man, but his message as well."
Upon returning to MMS, there was a salute to the American flag and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before all entered the building to watch Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream" speech in the school auditorium.