It’s Called “King Hall!”

On January 15, 2016, in the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium, DMAE made a historic move by rededicating the South Building as “King Hall.” This monumental occasion was an opportunity to revitalize what has become lost.

“I like how they rededicated the place as King Hall because we have all forgotten,” said junior Niyi Fatirigun.

In 1969, when the building was first established, the Englewood Board of Education named the building King Hall. King Hall Rededication Chairperson Adrian Bickham, spearheading the event, believes that the building’s initial purpose of commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. must be preserved.

“Nomenclature is important,” explained Ms. Bickham. “Identifying people and places by their proper name assists legacy,” she  declared passionately.

Talk of a rededication ceremony began in the summer of 2015 after an assembly recognizing Juneteenth. For this celebration, Ms. Bickham directed a “Dream Team” to run the ceremony;  administration was very supportive as were members of the community and the Board of Education.

The event had a myriad of guests and performers. The audience member VIPs included assemblymen and assemblywomen, the President of the Bergen County Chapter of the NAACP, Englewood Mayor Huttle, and several other community leaders. Had it not been for busy schedules, others who were invited also would have attended, such as U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. They did make sure to send letters commemorating the event. In fact, even the White House sent congratulatory remarks.

“We contacted the White House and Michelle Obama’s office wrote back that she could come to any future events if her schedule allowed it. Congressman John Lewis, who was involved in the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement, also wanted to be a part of this,” said Ms. Bickham.

The assembly had many speeches that celebrated the building as an ongoing symbol of peace and equality in the Englewood community. Dr. Stephanie Harper’s speech drew attention to the building’s historical significance, as the building was named shortly after Dr. King’s death. Superintendent Robert Kravitz said that the occasion was exciting and correlated with his goal as the new Superintendent.

“I think it is a sign of what I am trying to accomplish here as a Superintendent, which is embracing history yet moving forward,” he said.

Performances were also a large part of the ceremony. Grieco Elementary students performed a dance routine as well as the song “We Shall Overcome.” Music teacher Sandra Meltzer’s Select Vocal Ensemble performed the well-known song  “Imagine” by legendary musician John Lennon. She felt that the song was very appropriate for the occasion and that the audience was very enthusiastic about it.

However, some performers, such as sophomore Kyle Castillo,  felt nervous being part of such a significant occasion.

“I felt pressure because a lot of higher-ups were there,” said Kyle, who sang in the arrangement. “But I think it went well and that we represented the community well.”

The King Hall Rededication Ceremony will be remembered as a turning point for DMAE. Through this event, Englewood evoked an honor that began to fray with time. Declaring the “South Building” by its true name, “King Hall,” solidifies King’s legacy in the Englewood Community. Junior Shorasool Shatursan summed up this phenomenon.
“Listening to the speakers talking about DMHS during their times conveyed the school pride they had. Though some students now have little to none, it was nice to hear alumni, such as Ms. Bickham, be very zealous about the school,” Shorasool said.