1,000 volunteer at Chicago school for MLK Day

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, about 1,000 volunteers worked on projects at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago.

Volunteers tackled 40 projects at the Archer Heights neighborhood school. Students did not have class because of the holiday, but many came to school to paint classrooms and hallways.

"I think it does make a difference. It can make us feel more awake, brighten up the mood," said Song Li, a volunteer and Curie student, of the painting.

"I feel like with the walls being a brighter color, the teacher will have more energy, the students will have more energy, and the energy from the teacher will transmit to the students and they will have a better impact on work and their attitude in classrooms," said student volunteer Julia Aguilar.

City Year, an educational nonprofit, organized the day of service to celebrate the life of Dr. King.

"Martin Luther King was all about sending that message that it doesn't matter where you come from, what your background is, that we are part of a broader community of people that we can serve alongside each other," said City Year executive director Rebeca Nieves-Huffman.
For many of the volunteers, their service extends beyond Monday.

"If you grew up in a certain environment and you navigated your way out of it, saw what it's like to be out of it, I think it's a responsibility of those individuals to go back, pay it forward and let people know that these are the opportunities that you can have," said Fidel Williams, City Year's development operations manager.

"I know what they're going through and I want them to know that they can go to college and you can come back and help," said AmeriCorps member Carolina Villa.


The Chicago Children's Museum mixed fun with history on Navy Pier this afternoon.

The museum presented "What Does It Mean, Doctor King?" The 20-minute play featured key moments from the legendary civil rights leader's life.

Afterwards, kids and their parents got a chance to write letters thanking doctor king for his contributions to the civil rights movement.

Also on Monday, 150 Chicago Public School students honored the day dedicated to the slain civil rights leader with a first-of-its-kind student leadership conference.

Students from 10 middle schools participated in the student-run MLK Leadership Conference. The conference was held at Loyola University's Damen Student Center.

Students engaged in workshops featuring art, public speeches and community building all in an effort to improve their communities.
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