There won’t be any school on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day. But, as school board chair Teree Caldwell-Johnson noted in her closing remarks at Tuesday night’s board meeting, it’s not a day off, it’s a day on.

That spirit of MLK Day will be expressed in various ways across the district, starting on Friday at Samuelson Elementary School.

“We have an MLK walk Friday scheduled at 9:00 AM,” said office manager Tyne Christensen. “Our students walk the halls and then listen to Dr. King’s I have A Dream speech. Afterwards, students hold hands and sing We Shall Overcome. We do this every year.”

First thing Monday morning, Roosevelt High School’s Bridges2Harmony gospel choir will perform during the annual MLK Day Prayer Breakfast at Drake University’s Knapp Center, an event that will benefit the Grubb YMCA.

Later in the day, the RunDSM Youth Board has organized a day of service and community at Central Iowa Shelter and Services. Students will serve meals, organize the clothing closet/food pantry and lead a spoken word poetry workshop at the downtown facility.

Community Youth Concepts (CYC) is a local nonprofit agency that provides opportunities to youth around the metro. Every year, CYC hosts an MLK Day of Service.

“There will be a variety of activities taking place from 9:30-11:30 AM,” according to Amber Miller of CYC who is also the GEAR UP Coach at Roosevelt. “Painting the Free Little Food Pantry that will be installed at CYC, making bookmarks for public libraries that may need them, making tie blankets for various organizations, and making cinnamon ornaments for homebound seniors.”

All MLK Day activities for CYC will be held at Community Youth Concepts (1446 Martin Luther King Jr Pkwy, Des Moines 50314). If you have any questions regarding the activities, call CYC at 515-243-4292. Anyone wanting to come should check local media stations and the CYC website ( for weather cancellations on Monday.

In addition, students in Advanced Placement government classes throughout DMPS will gather on their “day off” in the library at Roosevelt High School to meet with Congressman David Young, and an opportunity to ask about and discuss a range of issues facing the nation.

Schools will have the day off, but that won’t necessarily mean that students will.

Photos of MLK Day Commemoration at Samuelson Elementary
MLK Celebration at Samuelson

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