AHS breaks respected national tradition, dishonors MLK, Jr.

I have always prided Ames High on being extremely socially accepting of each ethnicity and religion represented within our student body. Yet on Jan. 16, something seemed a little out of the ordinary. While the rest of the nation was on holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the students of Ames High were taking final exams. The reason every third Monday in January has been denoted as a national holiday is so all residents of the United States can understand and learn about the struggles so many in our nation were forced to face, and still face today. The dreams and achievements of one man gave way to the nation in which we currently live. Martin Luther King, Jr. made significant efforts to lower the racial barriers between African Americans and white Americans. In doing so, he also successfully broke the barriers between all other ethnic groups in the United States. For this, he is considered an American hero. Federal offices, schools, and banks also close on this day to celebrate. The fact that we had finals on this revered holiday was bad enough, but finding out there was nothing but a short announcement informing students of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s achievements at the beginning of the day was even worse. Like many other students, I myself only came to school after lunch, seeing as I had no morning finals, and was not able to hear the announcement. Having no reminder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, how were we expected to remember the day as simply more than just “the second day of finals?” Was it simply our bad luck that we missed the announcement? Slowly but surely, our school is ridding itself of longstanding American traditions that apply especially well to Ames High students. Two years ago, we had an assembly about Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr. Last year, there was a strong effort by students to plan an event. This year, nothing has happened, and nothing seems to be expected. In fact, the only acknowledgment I have found about Martin Luther King, Jr. this year was a speech I had to give in Honors American Literature, based upon his renowned “I have a dream” speech given during the March on Washington. Considering that Iowa State University, less than two miles from the high school, granted students and staff the day off to celebrate this honorable day, it seems a bit ridiculous that the Ames Community School District did not. I must admit, I do not know the trials and tribulations that come with planning the school calendar, but would the addition of one school day at the end of the year cause more difficulty than the blunder of not respecting a national holiday?