Centenary Celebrates King Legacy

Courtesy of the Shreveport Times
—By April Reynolds

Almost a week after the national holiday, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is still being celebrated.

As part of Centenary College's Dream Week 2009: Keeping the Dream Alive, approximately 52 students, faculty, staff and alumni devoted Saturday to service.

Originally scheduled to take part in beautification activities at two local public schools, volunteers cleaned the campus of Stoner Hill Elementary for the school's first MLK Jr. Service Day.

Despite not being able to paint and help out at C.E. Byrd High due to Saturday's basketball tournament, Chris Lavan, director of service-learning with the Office of Community, said the day went well.

"It was fantastic. They really appreciated us being there."

Lavan said Stoner Hill is one of Centenary's service-learning partners. The two have been working together for about two years.

"Now we're capitalizing on that relationship."

The day of service kicked off for volunteers at 8 a.m. with registration at Bynum Commons and welcome remarks.

From 9 a.m. to noon, Kelly Weeks, associate professor of business and chair of the diversity committee, said the group helped teachers at Stoner Hill clean rooms and organize.

"We cleaned all the classrooms, organized class materials and cleaned the auditorium," she said.

"It was a lot of cleaning and moving things around."

Margaret Bray, an alumna from the class of '66, heard about the project through the Office of Alumni Relations and had to join in.

"I decided to do it because I think it was a good cause and I wanted to meet some Centenary students," she said.

One of those students Bray worked alongside was Meg Shanks, a sophomore English and philosophy major.

"I thought it was just great to give back to the community, especially in remembrance of Martin Luther King," Shanks said.

"What better reason to do it, because that's what he stood for is helping and giving back to others."

Carla Anderson, director of the Office of Alumni Relations, was pleased to take part as faculty member, student pursuing her master's of business administration and 2004 alumna.

"We could have worked another three or four hours," she said.

"We feel good about the work we did at Stoner Hill. They were appreciative of us being there, and we were appreciative of the opportunity to serve the community."

The MLK Jr. Service Day Project was co-sponsored by the Office of Community, Career Services, Intercultural Engagement, Alumni Relations, Christian Leadership Center, Student Life, and the Centenary Education Department.

Lavan hopes in future years, the service day will include hundreds of volunteers working at several local schools.

"We wanted to do something to commemorate Dr. King's legacy, and his message of service go hand in hand especially with education.

So, it was great for Centenary to give back to local public schools."

Centenary College will continue to celebrate the legacy and views of MLK other events taking place on the campus through Thursday.