Dream Day Foundation Celebrates MLK Day

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PHOTO BY ROBERT NOLES / THE OBSERVER

BY Harrison Tarr
For the Observer

In honor and celebration of the life and efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Dream Day Foundation of Alabama and the Boys and Girls Clubs of greater Lee County held its 23rd annual Martin Luther King Day celebration at Opelika High School on Monday.

The event featured the voices of civil rights leaders from the past and present, an in-depth study of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice,” the naming of the Foundations annual scholarships and the awarding of the 2022 Dream Achiever Award.

Following the conclusion of vocal and acting performances, founder Marion A. Sankey and advisor Dr. Karen Anderson shared that Opelika High School was represented by four outstanding scholars.

“We are here to celebrate four young people who exemplify Dr. Kings ideal education: intelligence and character,” Anderson said. “The Dream Day Foundation is excited to invest in the futures of these young people through these scholarships.”

The first to hear her name called as a scholarship recipient, Opelika High School senior Lauren Landry, has earned a 4.0 GPA in her time as a Bulldog; she plans to attend the University of Alabama to earn her undergraduate degree in Biology.

The next Bulldog to earn a scholarship from the Dream Day Foundation, Sydney Lowe has excelled her in studies, earning a 4.23 GPA and acceptance into the University of Alabama. Lowe will put her scholarship towards obtaining a degree in pre-veterinary sciences.

Ora Preston has dedicated herself to her studies, earning a 4.22 GPA in her time at Opelika High School and receiving admission to the University of Alabama. Preston plans to use the scholarship to pursue a career in medicine and will major in pre-med as an undergraduate scholar.

Rounding out the scholarship recipients was Opelika senior Camille Slaughter. A committed scholar, Slaughter has earned both a 3.5 cumulative GPA and acceptance to the University of Alabama. She will continue her journey within the realm of academia as she pursues an undergraduate degree in psychology.

The Dream Day Foundation’s leader expanded on her pride in Opelika’s youth to be resilient over the course of their high school tenure, expressing pleasure in their ability to adapt to the times in which they are living in relating to COVID-19 and beyond.

“I told the young people today, sometimes you have to make adjustments,” Sankey said. “You have to make adjustments in life, so you need to start learning today how to make adjustments; if what you plan to do doesn’t work, you need to make adjustments. You don’t give up.”

After awarding each scholar with their respective award, Sankey reminded the crowd that the youth represent the next generation and that the audience must continue to do their part in uplifting their voices to create change.

“We have to continue,” Sankey said. “There’s so much going on today. Believe it or not, it is going to be harder for you to vote today — in 2022 — than it was in 1965. So if we don’t lift your voices, we are going to be back where we started.”

Upon the conclusion of the scholarship award ceremony, the Dream Day Foundation invited inaugural Dream Achiever Award Recipient Rev. Clifford Jones to present the 2022 honors to Mrs. Elsie Lott.

A current coordinator at the Community Market of East Alabama, Lott was recognized for her longtime commitment to giving back to the Opelika Community dating back to 1981 and for demonstrating an exceptional desire to help others.

Lott’s work career is deeply rooted in connecting to the Auburn and Opelika youth, working in Auburn’s early youth education system, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County, home day care, teaching Sunday school at Great Peach Missionary Baptist church among a plethora of other outreach missions in the Lee County area.

The Opelika community commends the hard work and dedication displayed by individuals such as Lott, Landry, Lowe, Preston and Slaughter; their representation of the community is a model for what their neighbors strive to become each and every day.

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