OPINION: MLK — Honored but not enough

The+Martin+Luther+King+Jr.+%22Stone+of+Hope%22+stands+in+the+MLK+memorial+in+Washington%2C+D.C.+At+West+Essex%2C+the+school%27s+current+policy+of+taking+a+half+day+to+honor+the+civil+rights+leader%27s+legacy+is+not+enough.

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The Martin Luther King Jr. "Stone of Hope" stands in the MLK memorial in Washington, D.C. At West Essex, the school's current policy of taking a half day to honor the civil rights leader's legacy is not enough.

Many students are infuriated by the fact that we have school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As a junior at West Essex, I feel as though it is a bad look to expect students to come to school on a national holiday. It can come off as disrespectful and I feel as though there is something that can be done to help this issue. 

Numerous schools in the Essex County area have off on this holiday. Our school shouldn’t necessarily change their policies based on other schools but I think something can be said about the fact that we are in session and they are not. On nearly every other national holiday including New Years Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, schools are closed. The Postal Service and many large banks are closed as well. Dr. King made a significant impact on our country and people should take the day to commemorate him. 

“It’s unfair to expect students to come to school, especially when we don’t even do much to honor him,” Senior Johnny Faloni said. 

If West Essex doesn’t want to change its policies then it should implement more ways to honor King and incorporate his story and impact in lessons. In many classes on January 20, King wasn’t even mentioned. If kids are coming to school then they should at least be focusing on him. Whether it’s for a few minutes of class, half the class or the entire class period, King should be the prominent discussion topic of the day.

This year, Mr. Aristide Toundzi came to West Essex as a guest speaker. He spoke to upperclassmen about Dr. King and how he affected his own life. This is definitely a step in the right direction for our school. While having the day off would be the most ideal way to honor King, having speakers, incorporating him into classes and devoting the day to him can show our respect to the man who largely changed our country.