“Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, January 15, 2024, Tabor Academy commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on campus. This year, the school-wide programming was focused on Dr. King’s idea of a beloved community, a society where all individuals, regardless of their race or background, come together in a spirit of love, understanding, and cooperation.
The day began in Wickenden Chapel with a special tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and Tabor’s beloved community. There, the Madrigals performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem, and there were opening remarks from Head of School Tony Jaccaci and Co-Heads of School Taylor Darby ’24 and Julian Badger ’24.
“Seawolves show up, but we shouldn’t just show up for someone because they are a Seawolf,” said Badger, emphasizing that the Tabor community should step up and be more present. “I want to see change—I think today is a great day to remember why change is important.”
In Chapel, several other speakers—whose voices might usually go unsung on campus—gave special addresses to the community. Debbie Perry, who works in the Johnson Dining Hall as part of Flik Dining, was the first to speak, delivering a powerful speech about the pillars on which a community stands, and the ripple effect small acts of kindness can create.
“A school is not just a collection of buildings and classrooms, it is a vibrant community where ideas are nurtured, friendships blossom, and dreams take root,” said Perry. “Tabor is a mosaic of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Embracing this diversity fosters an environment where understanding and respect thrive. Let us celebrate our differences that weave the tapestry of our collective identity.”
After Perry, Julie Crosby, Auxiliary Programs Manager, analogized her definition of community, sharing neighborly stories about offering help without expecting anything in return. Nate Meleo, Mathematics and Computer Science Teacher, recounted his time in the military and the community he built there.
Speaking from the heart, Assistant Supervisor of Housekeeping Helena Vultao expressed, “No matter what your job is, what role you play, we are one. We are one community. One family. Tabor Academy is my beloved community—my family.”
After Chapel, students were given resources collected by RoseMarie Wallace, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging (DEB). In advisory, they watched a video of Dr. King’s speech, “Blueprint for your life,” and a TEDx Talk with Doug Shipman titled, “The secret to creating the beloved community.” While considering Tabor’s values—care, collaboration, courage, and curiosity—advisories worked toward to define what makes Tabor a beloved community, and what each of us can do to ensure that it remains a beloved community for all. First, they brainstormed three elements that define an inclusive community. Next, they created a list of 10 specific actions that their advisory, collectively, can commit to being held accountable for— like doing a trash cleanup on campus during advisory one day. Using these elements and actions, advisories then developed a statement of commitment to their beloved community, Tabor Academy.
After advisory, a luncheon was held for five honorees who were part of the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. awards at Tabor. The nominations for these awards opened in November 2023 to honor leaders in the work of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and social justice. Following the luncheon, the entire community met in Hoyt Hall’s Fireman Performing Arts Auditorium for an awards ceremony.
Harold Bost, Carl Lovejoy, and Joby Branion ’81 received The Legacy Shaper Awards for demonstrating a significant commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion; actively advocating for the rights and representation of marginalized individuals; and showing dedication to promoting a culture of respect, acceptance, and understanding. Lovejoy and Bost were recognized on behalf of their work in Tabor admissions. Branion, who has experience working to increase minority enrollment through college admissions, was also recognized for founding his NFL player representation firm, Vanguard, and facilitating meaningful change with a diverse group of leaders.
The Tabor Impact Award is given to an individual who displays exceptional dedication to the emotional and psychological wellbeing of individuals; works towards healing trauma and restoring a sense of wholeness in the lives of others; and demonstrates a clear commitment to creating spaces of safety, understanding, and support. Trinity Monteiro ’17 received this honor on behalf of the work she has done in sports management to use sports as a vehicle for social change. She currently works for the National Football League managing their social justice, domestic violence and sexual assault, and LGBTQ initiatives. Her word of advice to the community: “Keep speaking up.”
The Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Excellence Award recipient exhibits outstanding efforts in promoting equity and fairness, works towards eliminating systemic barriers and creating equal opportunities for all, and demonstrates a clear dedication to the pursuit of justice and equality. Heather Huszar ’03 was honored with this award for her work with high-need schools in underserved communities. From the podium in Hoyt, she gave a presentation on privilege and the importance of paying it forward.
After each awardee addressed the auditorium, the day concluded with a performance by Tabor’s Gospel Choir.
“In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. let us be catalysts for positive change within the Tabor community. May diversity be your strength and kindness be your guiding principle,” urges Perry. “Together, create a school environment where every individual feels respected, included, and empowered to reach their fullest potential. And may we all continue to be inspired by the timeless wisdom of Dr. King.”