Students Participate in Discussions and Workshops for MLK Day

Students delved into discussions about “Manhood in America,” the fast-food industry, race relations and atheism as part of Phillips Academy’s 21st celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day this past Monday. Uppers and Seniors attended different workshops of their choice, while the Lowers watched the movie Crash and Juniors watched “Mr. Glass.” Uppers and Seniors chose from among sixteen workshops, with topics ranging from “Activism—What’s going on in the world and what are you gonna do about it?” to “Atheism, Religion, and Spirituality in the Modern World” to “Manhood in America” led by Byron Hurt, an off-campus guest. Seyoung Lee ’12, who led “Activism—What’s going on in the world and what are you gonna do about it?” with Lou Bernieri, Instructor in English, said, “We had a lot of issues that were brought up [in the workshop], such as the Pakistani flood relief and the public education system. The people were brainstorming about how you would go about changing what you want in the world.” “We had 33 kids in our workshop and I was definitely happy with where it went. There were some people who were really interested in becoming an activist, especially those who had topics that they were very passionate about. Mr. Bernieri was also very happy. He wanted to do it again next year,” continued Lee. Shelby Carpenter ’12, the student leader of “Atheism, Religion, & Spirituality in the Modern World” said she was also pleased with the student response to her workshop. Carpenter said, “[The workshop] became more of a discussion on religion and less about atheism, which was very interesting in itself because you could tell that the minds of the students were more focused on the religious aspects and had more questions about faith rather than atheism.” Anne Gardner, Director of Spiritual Life and the supervisor for Carpenter’s workshop, said, “I look out on the American landscape and I see a culture that is very ambiguous and sometimes very uneasy with religion, and much like Martin [Luther King] was at that time, I feel like the discussion here on this campus is unnecessary to evangelize.” “From the perspective of addressing issues of race and class and gender and all these kinds of things…Martin Luther King obviously is an icon to me,” she continued. Caroline Von Klemperer ’12 attended “Manhood in America,” where participants watched Byron Hurt’s documentary, which compared 50 Cent and Barack Obama, and discussed the perceptions of manhood. “I found the comparison between [50 Cent and Obama] interesting,” continued Von Klemperer. Carol Israel, Instructor in Psychology and a counselor at Graham House, led a discussion with Lowers after they watched Crash, an Academy Award-winning film depicting race relations in modern America. Juniors watched “Mr. Glass,” a one-man performance by Jonathan Dent ’05 that shed light on conflicts of race and identity.