Claudia Peschiutta

R.D. WHITE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL -- Meline Haghnazarian isn't really sure

who Martin Luther King Jr. was, but the third-grader understands the

message of harmony the civil rights leader spent much of his life


It's important for different people to get along "to be like friends,

to be happy with each other," she said after taking part Friday in the

school's January flag ceremony, which was dedicated to King.

Third-graders stood on the steps in front of the school, telling a

crowd dotted with waving American flags about King's life -- his birth in

Atlanta in 1929, his leadership of peaceful protests against segregation,

his shooting death in 1968. In between the brief descriptions, four

classes of third-graders recited portions of the "I Have a Dream" speech

King gave at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963.

Third-grade teacher Shant Dermegerdichian said the students need to

learn the lessons of equality and tolerance King sought to teach.

"There are so many kids, from so many nations," he said. "They should

be proud that they're different."

Spencer Gilmartin, another third-grader that joined in the ceremony,

said what King did was good because "it wasn't right to treat

African-Americans differently."

Though people get along better today, they could be nicer to each

other, Gilmartin said.

"Then, there won't be any wars or destruction," he said.

His advice?

"Try to agree on things and not fight. Just use words instead of

hands," he said.

Fellow third-grader Stephanie Osipov said King was "a good man because

he made the world peaceful."

Osipov said she has friends from different countries, which is much

better because you get to learn new languages.

"I have one in Canada. One in Iran. One in Europe," she said. "It

doesn't matter what the color of a person's skin is."

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