Moulton, King and ISU Celebrate Student Success and Dreams
There is a map with a direct line that runs through Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad and Iowa State University President Dr. Steven Leath pointing the way to buried treasure at inner city schools. And Tuesday afternoon, ‘X’ marked the spot at Moulton Extended Learning Center where “Dream Keepers” were recognized in a joint assembly involving Moulton and King Elementary.
Students at those schools were encouraged to use their day off in observance of the MLK holiday on January 21 to write essays on the topic of Dr. King’s legacy and its impact on their personal dreams. A contest was arranged and today the winners were rewarded with laptop computers, courtesy of the McTech Angels from Corinthian Baptist Church.
But in the big picture all of the students at Moulton and King stand to be very big winners in the years to come. In his keynote speech at the awards ceremony, Dr. Leath talked in broad strokes about a program that’s being developed to grant full tuition scholarships in the future to entire cohorts of Moulton and King students who work hard to succeed in school and want to enroll at Iowa State.
Dr. Leath explained that the program is the brainchild of Rep. Abdul-Samad (a former DMPS School Board member) and not only in the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, but also that of Dr. Carver who was ISU’s first African-American student and first African-American graduate before going on to world renown as a botanist (Dr. Leath’s academic field before he became a college president) and freedom fighter at Washington’s Tuskegee Institute.
A capacity crowd of students, parents and community dignitaries in the Moulton auditorium was welcomed by Principal Craig Saddler who co-hosted the event along with his counterpart at King, Peter LeBlanc. Then Saddler slid into place at the piano where he accompanied Moulton’s music teacher Jeremy Jorgenson and SUCCESS Case Manager Aaron Smith on an inspired rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” that brought down the house.
Saddler’s remarks included a recollection from his graduate school days when he studied Cornell West and his assertion that the “nihilistic threat” was the great enemy of progress because it represents hopelessness, the anti-dream. No one in his student audience at the assembly could probably spell nihilistic – yet. Someday they may learn about nihilism, just as he did. But with programs like the one being developed between ISU and its adopted inner city schools, it shouldn’t pose much of a threat. The only things coming through any louder and clearer than the music and the speeches and the ovations yesterday at Moulton were hope and dreams.