Pre-K students celebrate diversity, MLK Jr. during second annual March of Peace

January 23, 2018 Jaime DeJesus
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Teaching youngsters the importance of diversity and a dream, District 20 Pre-K for All Z075 held its second annual March of Peace, an event for four-year-old students to learn about and celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The youngsters, their parents and faculty gathered outside the school, 21 Bay 11th Street, on Friday, January 12 with banners and posters in hand. Despite the rain, the enlightening event — which also drew Councilmember Justin Brannan and representatives from Borough President Eric Adams’ office — was yet another success.

“The children each designed their own banner or poster that they would present as they marched and the teachers went over with the students about why they were marching, the legacy of Martin Luther King as well as what it means to march together as a group,” said Lauren Napolitano, assistant principal at the Pre-K for All Center, which is attended by 267 pre-k students. “They also learned and sang two songs in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and later on in the afternoon, families were invited in and the students presented their posters as well as sang the songs to their families.”

She stressed the importance of teaching children diversity early and often.

“It’s really important at such a young age to lay that foundation, what it means and why we celebrate Dr. King and his legacy,” Napolitano said. “Our school really has a diverse student population. In pre-k, we focus on socializing and getting along with one another and I think this gives the students a deeper understanding of what that means and even what the word peace means.”

Dianne Gounardes, director of Early Childhood Education for District 20 Pre-K, was also pleased with the day, despite the weather. “We went around the block then down to the multi-purpose room and sang songs and recited poems, and it was a reflection of what had been talked about in the classrooms about everything Dr. King stood for,” she said. “It was an attempt to establish a really good foundation for the children, an understanding we must be accepting of all, and an understanding of all the principles Dr. King stood for.”

Although young, the kids took away valuable lessons.

“At this level, children don’t see diversity,” Gounardes said. “They see children. It’s a wonderful thing to instill this in our youngsters and have them grow up with the feeling that the fact that someone’s skin tone is different or they speak differently or eat different food doesn’t matter. Everyone comes from the same place, we are all the same and it instills that in the kids so they grow up to be accepting of everyone. That’s what we want.”

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