The Hill School celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Ed Turner and his advisees share their thoughts and discuss how they felt about the movie “Just Mercy.” Photo by Erick Sun ’24.

The Hill School is happy to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life and legacy beginning on Sunday, Jan. 16. Although this year’s official week of remembrance will be held differently than years past due to COVID-19, the school’s plan to have interactive opportunities for students and faculty has not changed.

The Hill School started the week by having Michael Tennant ’00, the CEO of Curiosity Lab, facilitate “A Model for Empathy” at 7:45 p.m. via Zoom on Sunday, Jan. 16. Students learned how to empathize with others using Tennant’s interactive card game, Actually Curious. 

“The game was very beneficial in our dorm. In the beginning, I was hesitant to open up to everyone; but, towards the end, I felt very comfortable talking about the questions. The game taught me that other individuals are going through the same struggles that I am, and that made me feel safe” Lanie Lawerence ’23 said. Many students were able to bond with their dormmates in a fun and engaging way. Austin Dunn ’25 said, “I enjoyed it; I learned more about the people in my dorm and felt more comfortable with them now than before we played the game!” 

Continuing through the week, on Monday, Jan. 17 advisory groups watched the movie “Just Mercy,” a 2019 film about a young lawyer named Bryan Stevenson who heads to Alabama to defend those on Death Row who were wrongfully convicted or could not afford proper legal representation. Virtual students participated in this viewing by watching the movie through the school’s classroom streaming service, Swank. Portia Sockel ’22, a student in Diane Richards’ advisory described this film as “deep and real.” 

This year Hill started “Courageous Conversations” where advisories gather and talk about serious topics such as racism, disabilities, sexism, and more. The movie brought up meaningful discussions in advisories and got students to engage and learn different opinions. 

“I thought the movie as a whole was phenomenal. It is one of those stories that is so captivating and unbelievable that it was difficult to imagine being true. I found myself experiencing emotions I had not felt in a long time: a strange amalgamation of anger, sadness, discomfort, and anxiety for the characters,” Sela Muto ’23, a remote student, stated in a text. “The fact that so many innocent black men were sentenced to years of waiting for their execution day is absurd. How does a system as important as the justice system experience so many failures? The story was beautifully told, and I found the relationship between Johnny D, Herb, and Anthony Ray Hinton so heartwarming, especially after reading Hinton’s freedom in ‘The Sun Does Shine.’”

As the week continues, students contain their excitement to hear Anthony Ray Hinton speak to the Hill community on Thursday, Jan. 20, an American activist and writer who was wrongfully convicted and put on Death Row for 28 years before being exonerated.