Waconia students mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with service - New York News

Waconia, Minn., students honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service

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Across the nation, groups organized marches, rallies and speeches to remember the work, legacy and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King -- but while most kids got to sleep in on Monday, some students were learning.

Most schools close to honor the holiday, but Waconia is among the few districts in Minnesota where schools stay in session as a way to mark the holiday.

On the floor of a classroom inside Waconia's Clearview Middle School, Monday's lesson involved fringed fleece that the students could tie together and send off to refugees. Next door, a sandwich assembly line was set up -- but it didn't have anything to do with the students' own nutrition.

Across town, Bayview Elementary students also made sandwiches, stacked them up and readied them for pick-up. Each school in Waconia embarked on a public service project on Monday -- be it sending school supplies to third world countries or holding a blood drive -- to help teach the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the students don't seem to mind.

"It's been exceptionally well received," said Superintendent Nancy Rajanen.

Rajanen made the change to keep kids in school five years ago as a better way to observe the holiday.

"I feel real comfortable about saying that our kids learn more about the legacy of Dr. King by coming to school and participating in service because it's carried on from kindergarten through 125th grade," she added.

At Southview Elementary, the sleek heads of boys -- and the pile of hair on the library floor -- gave evidence to the cancer fundraiser. The girls' ponytails will be sent off to Locks of Love.

"It teaches kids they can help; they can do something," Kim Fraser said. "They can make a difference even when they're seven or eight."

Last year, Waconia schools received an award from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School recognizing the district's MLK Day program for its innovation.

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