LHU Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Guest Speaker and Awards

January 29, 2014- Lock Haven University's Price Auditorium was filled with students, faculty and staff, and community members who gathered to remember the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as the University celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The audience had the pleasure of listening to Aurora Keen, Jersey Shore Area School District (JSASD) Senior, play her guitar, singing "Live Out Loud" for which she was awarded the musical selection award.

Proceeding Keen's musical selection, Professor Ramona Broomer presented the Meriam B. Harris Awards. Ms. Harris was the first African American to receive a teaching degree from Lock Haven University (Lock Haven State College). The following quote was used to describe Meriam B. Harris in her Lock Haven State College yearbook, "If you want a thing well done, do it yourself."

Meriam B. Harris awardees embody this same philosophy.  Awardees are chosen according to the following criteria: commitment to encouraging an understanding and appreciation of diversity, mentoring and leadership skills that support diversity on and off campus, playing a supporting/influential role in the retention and recruitment of underrepresented students at LHU, creating an open and welcoming environment that honors all people no matter their ethnicity, gender, and/or lifestyle. Award recipients were Tyreek Renwrick, student award; Lock Haven YMCA, community award, and Dr. Joan Whitman Hoff, faculty award.

Dr. Laurie Cannady, MLK program organizer, then explained that LHU and local school districts had "taken something negative and turned it into a positive" allowing JSASD Superintendent, Dr. Dorothy Chappel, explain. Chappel explained that within JSASD, there was an increase in the diversity curriculum, part of which involved showing students the movie "42: The Jackie Robinson Story". Cannady noted that since last year's program, JSASD's participation had increased by 300%, showing the impact of increasing awareness.

An MLK Contest is hosted by LHU with JSASD and Keystone Central School District (KCSD). JSASD students Aurora Keen and Chiara Hauserman were awarded for their poems, and Olivia Farr, Taylor Fleming, Ellie Graff, Kacee Shobert, and Savannah Koch were awarded for their posters. KCSD essay winner, Rachael Owens, read the deeply heartfelt and personal essay that won her the

MLK Essay award. Owens, a sophomore, received a standing ovation for her courageous reading.

Terrance Hayes, Keynote Speaker, offered insight into his poems, which he then tied with the late Dr. King's dream. Hayes interests lie in people – how they act, interact, and the outcomes of such interaction. He has a deep love of community, and in his poems one will see his views of how individuality enriches the nuances of community. His humor immediately caught the attention of the audience, and his thought-provoking poems had audience members captivated.

Lock Haven University's Gospel Choir sang an acapella version of "Lift Every Voice and Sing".

To close the ceremony, Dr. Fiorentino, President of Lock Haven University, thanked not only the LHU community, but the community of Lock Haven, Clinton County, and local school districts for coming together to celebrate, and take the opportunity to reflect upon what is happening in our communities. "Dr. King raised issues that made people think: think about themselves, their relationships with people, and their involvement with their community," said Fiorentino. "Don't forget this day. Don't forget about Dr. King. Don't forget about the history that has brought us to this place in time. Share with each other. Treat each other properly. Be willing to understand differences. Be willing to think in a different way."

Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.