“It feels good to help people”: Students Participate in Day of Service in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Mount Madonna School (MMS) community honored the life of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in a nationwide day of service on Friday, January 14. 

All students from the tiniest preschoolers to our almost-ready-to-graduate seniors got their hands dirty with projects to improve the Mount Madonna School Campus, Mount Madonna Center (MMC) and to benefit the local community. 

Some of the projects involved sweeping and raking the areas around the MMC Ayurvedic center, caring for MMC chickens, gardening work in the various gardens on the property, and organizing donations for local animal shelters. 

“It feels good to help people,” commented one kindergarten boy who helped pull weeds from the MMC garden along with his classmates and teacher, Hema Walker. 

Director of Upper School Shannon Kelly organized the day, along with Jameelah Johnson, middle school yoga teacher and basketball coach. 

“Mount Madonna School’s Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is something I have wanted to do for many years,” Kelly said. “I think it is important for our students to understand the issues facing the local community and to understand the power of selfless service. When Prabha Pacey(‘86), a fellow alum and friend, became the executive Director of Mount Madonna Center, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to collaborate. We wanted to honor the legacy and vision of Martin Luther King Jr. by bringing intention to the holiday. So often we enjoy holidays without understanding why we celebrate them. Jameelah, Prabha, and I met and started to envision what we wanted the day to look like.”

Organizing the locations and project goals for 175 MMS students was no small feat, but the day went smoothly and the work was accomplished the way Kelly and Johnson envisioned. 

The day also began with a school-wide presentation on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. First, second and third grade students also had the opportunity to hear Brajesh Friedberg, MMC yoga and social justice teacher, and a former principal of MMS, tell stories of his memories of marching with Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for civil rights. 

“Brajesh was so impressed with our student’s insightful questions and already rich knowledge about Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges and others,” said Lower School Director Kami Pacheco. 

The weather on the mountain was sunny with clear air as the students worked, adding to the idyllic quality of the day. 

“I think the day was amazing and I look forward to expanding it in the future,” said Kelly. “Hopefully, next year we will be able to open it up to our school families.” 


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications, mmsmarketing@mountmadonnaschool.org

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.