On Monday, January 20th, students from Toms River High School South's chapter of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, under the guidance of club adviser Charlene Wallace, were honored to attend and speak at a community celebration and service honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Second Baptist Church of Toms River.
Among the other people in attendance included Congressman Andy Kim, Reverend David Graham, various council members, and distinguished faith leaders.
South's Habitat for Humanity members who attended the service included Samantha Kohlepp, president; Kaytlyn Cazassa, secretary; Jack Parks, treasurer; Kelle Anwander, member; and Erin Maguire, member. The students were presented with a series of questions based on the topic "Youth Reflections on Dr. King's Impact on Life." They were asked to compose an essay and present their responses to members of the church and community.
Congressman Andy Kim spoke with South's students and shared his own stories of the times he spent working with Habitat for Humanity. He praised the students for their thoughtful words and insights.
Below are excerpts from the students' essays which answered the question: How has Dr. King inspired you?
Jack Parks: Martin Luther King inspired me to be inclusive, thoughtful, decent and above all, to value people who do not look like me, no matter where in the world they live, what they own or how they worship. He and I didn't share many experiences, but we share the same dream of freedom and dignity.
Samantha Kohlepp: If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, I think he would organize peaceful and nonviolent protests to bring people together to promote change. He is most famous for this type of social action and his message got through. Dr. King believed people should not be judged by the color of their skin or religious beliefs but rather by the content of their character. We can become a stronger more cohesive community following the teachings of Dr. King and truly listening to others’ opinions and expressing our beliefs with respect, integrity and strength of character just as Dr. King did.
Kellee Anwander: Dr. Martin Luther King has inspired me to speak my mind through whatever obstacle comes my way, and to never let anyone stand in the way of my future. Through listening to his speeches, and just learning about the truly amazing person that he was, he inspires me to stand up for what I believe in, and to put my all into every fight.
Samantha, Jack, Kaytlyn, Kelle, and Erin proudly represented today's youth, as well as Habitat for Humanity and Toms River High School South. Let us continue to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.