At 7:30 am on any other national holiday, children are nestled under covers, and sleepy from a bit of extra play, TV or reading before bed the evening before. Working and stay-at-home parents in charge of their children on holidays or sick days might also be doing the same.
Monday, January 19 found the roads around Red Bank quiet, but the Red Bank Charter School in full swing. Cars lined up to drop off their back-packed and uniformed students as if it were any other brisk Monday in January. But every single RBCS student, staff, faculty member arrived knowing that this day was to be a day of service learning in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his sacrifice for equality.
The service day opened with important remarks and reminders about why the students were all here at school, instead of home. Guest speakers read stories about MLK, civil rights, the men and women who never took a day off from their cause, and the importance of activism and conservation to a community.
The day continued with service projects for local senior citizens, to be shared with the communities of Wesleyan Arms and the Red Bank Senior Center. Older students and teachers ventured out to see the Academy Award nominated movie Selma, about the oppression, sacrifice and fortitude of Atlanta blacks in 1965, in their struggle for equal voting rights.
Students welcomed the young artists of Actors Playground School of Theatre in a performance of The Gaggle, a play centered around social conflict and reaching resolution. All of Red Bank Charter School then crafted signs and took part in a silent walk through Red Bank, in honor and reflection of social justice, community service and the importance of civic engagement.
“Today and everyday, the Red Bank Charter School puts its own mission in motion with service-learning programs that amplify three basic tenets of our school – All children can learn, All children must love themselves and others, and All children must support their community”, said RBCS Principal Meredith Pennotti. “It is these beliefs for which Dr. King lived and died and it is most fitting that we live this day in his spirit.”