VIDEO: Inaugural Day of Service exceeds expectations

With over 500 volunteers in attendance, the district’s first MLK day of service is reimagining community engagement.

Sylvan Prey-Harbaugh '23 and Matteo Ventresca '25




These were just some of the reactions shared by Wallingford-Swarthmore community members, following the district’s inaugural Martin Luther King Day Jr. Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 16. 

“If you were there, you would see me grinning ear to ear,” Superintendent Dr. Wagner Marseille said. “I’m extremely excited and happy about the turnout today, and even more excited to see what next year will look like as we begin planning.”

At about 9 a.m., the event commenced in the middle school auditorium. Packed with WSSD students, parents, and community members, the energy in the room was bursting through the seams with volunteers ready to kick off the day and serve. 

Hosted by Marseille and senior Anjali Robinson-Leary, the event kicked off with community messages from Pennsylvania Senator Tim Kearney, and Representative Leanne Krueger on the importance of voting to create local change and inspire large-scale action.

Following the captivating speeches and two Silvertones performances came the event’s keynote speaker, featured distinguished national researcher on American race relations Chad Lassiter, who spoke on the importance of love. 

The presentations concluded with performances from WSSD students, including two original poems and a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by elementary schoolers, a dance performance by middle schoolers, an original speech by SHHS senior Supraja Sudarsan titled, “The Limits of Empathy,” and a district-wide rendition of MLK’s acclaimed “I Have a Dream” speech. 

As the performance side of the day came to an end, it was time for the actual service, as hundreds of community volunteers filed out of the auditorium to play their part in giving back. The majority of activities were located in the gymnasium. Each school manned its own individual service project. 

The schools came together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy through service activities like food drives, toiletry drives, and care kits. 

“I think that it’s good for the WSSD community to be giving,” senior Aïssata Koné said. “We get a lot, and I feel like if you get too much, and you don’t know about the process of giving, and how meaningful giving is, it isn’t a good balance in your life.”