Off went the students and teachers of Hubbell Elementary School: west on Center Street, hang a right on Polk Boulevard, and head east on Chamberlain Avenue and back to school.
In total it’s just under a mile in length, but Hubbell’s Dream Walk isn’t about the distance, it’s about the message.
In recent years the Dream Walk has marked the end of several activities the school does in February to mark Black History Month. This final step, so to speak, is a chance for students to share some of what they learned around issues such as equality and justice. Sherrie Sauls, the office manager at Hubbell, helps coordinate the school’s activities that over the years has included various events and concerts as well as historical displays in the halls of the school.
This particular day began at Hubbell with a fire drill, getting everyone safely outdoors to the playground. Once the all-clear was given it was off to the sidewalk to begin their walk.
Many students carried pre-printed signs that read “I Have a Dream,” echoing the iconic speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students put some personal touches to those signs with their own dreams, some around global issues (such as ending wars or protecting the environment) while others shared their personal dreams (to become a teacher or a doctor).
Other students carried signs they made themselves. Some expressed support for specific issues, such as Black Lives Matter or LGBTQ rights. Others were aspirational, noting we are better together or to be kind or to help people in need.
Along the way the students received encouragement from plenty of grown-ups. Neighbors came out on their front porches to applaud and cheer while cars slowed down to toot their horns and give a wave of support.
One change to this year’s Dream Walk is COVID-19. Students and teachers wore face masks, of course. But it also was an opportunity for a reunion, of sorts. Out of the little more than 400 students at Hubbell, about 35% have opted to continue with their classes online this school year. The “virtual” students were invited to participate in this morning’s event in-person, and many of them and their parents were on hand to join the ranks.
It made one girl’s hand-made sign all the more meaningful: “My dream is for COVID-19 to be over.”