Though Jan. 21 was a school holiday for students around the country, a number of students were on a school campus earlier this week.
McDaniel College welcomed nearly 100 Carroll County schoolchildren on Monday to the fourth annual Martin Luther King Day of celebration and reflection.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., students of all ages participated in a variety of activities that celebrated King's life and provided a service to the community.
"Every year, it is different," said Nora Muarry, coordinator for youth development and service-learning for Carroll County Public Schools. "We had a lot of strong participation over the years, a lot of the same kids come back. We mix it up for them."
This year marked the first appearance of Liberty High School's jazz band. Under the direction of Brandi Jason, the instrumental music director at the school on Bartholow Road in Eldersburg, the group opened the day with a program that took the audience on a musical journey outlining the history of jazz and blues.
"Jazz is purely an American original art form," Jason said. "Jazz is for everybody."
The group featured numerous students playing solos and had everyone in the audience singing and clapping at the end to "This Little Light of Mine."
"Today was a great day," said Olivia Martinez, 10, a fourth-grader at Mount Airy Elementary School, who joined Jason up front at the start of the song. "I got to sing in front of the audience."
"I'm so glad the students participated in it," Jason said afterwords. "It is an enriching experience. They (the students) were born into a world completely different. I'm so glad we're a part of this."
After watching the presidential inauguration, Sally Greene, of Westminster, spoke to the group about her participation in King's Walk on Washington and hearing his "I Have a Dream" speech in August, 1963.
Carroll County Community College also provided supplies for the students to make cards for senior citizens as a service project.
"We recognize Dr. King's accomplishments and methods of nonviolence and his service to the community," said Pamela Zappardino, co-director of Ira and Mary Zepp Center for Non-violence and Peace Education, about the event. "It is a day on, rather than a day off. A component of the day is doing a service project."
The center at McDaniel College was a sponsor of the event, as was the NAACP.
"These things are always fun," Zappardino said. "The kids are great."
Tracy Rostkowski, of Eldersburg, brought her son and his friend because she remembers growing up during the events of King's life and doesn't want them to forget their importance.
"I raised my child to love everyone," Rostkowski said. "This (the event) is wonderful and the music...is awesome."
Though this was Jessica Rhodes' first time, it was the second for her 7-year-old son, Brady.
"My sister brought him last year and raved about it," said Rhodes, who took the day off from work to attend with Brady and her son, Peyton, 6.
"I really enjoyed the music and thought it was great how the kids had instrumental solos and portrayed memories of Martin Luther King through music," she said.
The day also included lunch in McDaniel's cafeteria, a thrill for many.
"This cafeteria is really nice," said Nicole Wyatt-Brown, eating lunch with her twin sister, Lauren.
Both 14-year-olds are freshmen at Century High School in Sykesville.
"I think it is pretty cool," Lauren said of the day. "I like it."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun