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Quaker Valley classes in session; district uses MLK Jr. Day to teach, officials say

| Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 12:45 p.m.

There's no mail delivery today, and many government offices are closed.

But some students across the region, including those in the Quaker Valley School District are in class this Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Working with a “particularly challenging” calendar as administrators oversaw the completion of the district's $26.5 million middle school, Quaker Valley leaders needed additional days off to prepare to move students into its newly renovated school earlier this month, district spokeswoman Tina Vojtko said.

Students began the year following Labor Day and had an extended Christmas break to meet the needs of building renovations, Votjko said.

“Much like Veterans Day, having school on this day of recognition is providing valuable learning opportunities for our students that otherwise would likely not exist,” she said.

Nearby, Shaler Area and Pine-Richland students attended class today, with information on both school's websites explaining it was used as a make-up day.

One parent emailed Vojtko preferring Quaker Valley not have school today, she said.

Across the district's four schools, the holiday is being commemorated, Assistant Superintendent Heidi Ondek said.

“We are pleased to offer numerous opportunities for our students to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.,” she said. “Our schools and classrooms are providing meaningful, age-appropriate learning experiences to commemorate this important day.”

Students in R.J. Long's eighth-grade social studies classes will view and discuss a video that introduces students to the history of segregation, including Jim Crow laws and how segregation ended with the landmark Supreme Court case in 1954, Brown versus Board of Education.

Students also will learn about King's “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, and when King received the Nobel Peace Prize. The high school's Key Club group is participating in Pittsburgh's Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity, Vojtko said.

Quaker Valley students will volunteer at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Allegheny Cleanways tire cleanup.

At Osborne Elementary, students attended a school-wide assembly that included a performance of “We the People, the Musical” from the Civic Light Opera's Gallery of Heroes. Families of Osborne students also were invited to attend.

“We are pleased to turn this calendar challenge into a positive learning opportunity for our students,” Ondek said. “We are confident that our students will develop a deeper understanding of Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in the numerous activities offered in our classrooms, schools and greater community.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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