'We come in peace'

First grader Emilie Turner leads classmates Josey Spurlin, Audri Scott and Addison Todd back to Miss Cotton’s classroom Thursday afternoon after participating in a peaceful march to the Dawson Springs Elementary School front office. The students have been learning about the civil rights movement.

First graders in Miss Lisa Cotton’s class at Dawson Springs Elementary School have been learning about civil rights.

Leading up to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, the class has had a lesson on how it’s wrong to be treated unfairly based on characteristics they can’t control.

Each day, Miss Cotton would have different “laws” for the class to follow. The girls and boys were separated at lunch. Boys received candy canes, while the girls had to write sentences. Certain people couldn’t use the water fountain or wouldn’t be able to have privileges based on sex or hair color or height.

The students didn’t like the “laws” and not knowing, day-to-day, what would happen. The children drew protest signs, glued them to popsicle sticks and had a peace march on Thursday in hopes that Miss Cotton would change some of her rules. The students walked to the front office of the school and talked to administrators, including Principal Jennifer Ward, and other staff about what they had experience and what they learned.

“I’m so impressed with how much they’ve learned and how deeply they have thought this unit through,” Cotton said.

Caleb Esposito read a letter the class wrote about the unfairness of Miss Cotton’s rules. Many first-graders’ signs asked Miss Cotton to treat everyone the same.

“We are following up with Rosa Parks and how to change something through peaceful means,” Cotton said. “The class voted (Tuesday) to write a letter to Mrs. Ward explaining why they feel we should have a longer ...”