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King’s example inspires leadership in young people

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

Martin Luther King Jr. was an advocate of education — so it is fitting that students were included in the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

Local students kicked off this year’s holiday with a High School Summit event Wednesday at La Quinta Inn.

The event, hosted by the City of Federal Way Diversity Commission and the Federal Way School District, invited about 90 students from all Federal Way high schools to discuss leadership and the Martin Luther King theme. It was the first of several events scheduled throughout the week leading up to Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 21.

The summit kicked off with a breakfast and included a panel discussion, several activities and lectures. Local business leaders spoke to the students about how they became successful in their lives. Later that afternoon, students met with their principals to discuss what they learned as well as possible ways to improve their schools.

Students who attended the summit were selected by staff at each school because of their untapped leadership potential, said Ron Walker, the Martin Luther King Day celebration chairman.

“Someone at your school has identified you as a leader,” Walker told the students.

Walker said he wanted to inspire kids who were perhaps on the brink of becoming leaders, but hadn’t pursued that path yet.

“The goal of this event is to help young people reach their potential,” he said.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good time to work with students because King is a role model for many students. The holiday offers an opportunity to discuss topics such as education, civil rights, diversity, leadership and community, Walker said.

“There’s a lot of different pieces around that you can engage young people in,” he said.

And indeed, Martin Luther King Jr. has taught many valuable lessons to students, some said on Wednesday.

King demonstrated how to handle issues without using violence, said Josh Simon, a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School.

“You have to be able to do it peacefully, like mature adults,” Simon said.

Perseverance is another valuable lesson that can be learned from Dr. King, said Ke’Anna Blackwell, a senior at Federal Way High School.

“His dream, he went through with it,” Blackwell said.

Roy Scott, a junior at Todd Beamer High School, said he was enthusiastic about attending the event because he wanted to learn more about how to be a leader and how to influence people.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good time to reflect on King’s role in the world, Simon said.

“I think sometimes we take for granted what kind of impact he had on life today,” he said.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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