WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Utah kids were out of school Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
While some kids used the day to sleep in, 9th graders in West Valley City know that the day means so much more.
The Martin Luther King Jr. assembly at West Lake Junior High School is never a solemn occasion, but it's always one full of emotion for teacher Ken Hopkins.
"It's important for the kids to realize that this man gave up his life for what he believed in. To make the world a better place. It wasn't easy, it was a difficult time, there were a lot of challenges but he was the one who held it all together,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins hopes to reach students of today with King's message of yesterday.
Two thirds of the population at West Lake is minorities.
There are 15 to 20 different languages spoken at the school, and Hopkins wants each student to know that Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a dream and so should they.
"If they keep dreaming, keep believe and doing what they are doing, I have all the faith in the world that they'll continue to be what they want to be,” said Hopkins.
9th grader Gina Sombatsaphay said, "I like knowing that there are other people rooting for me to do the best I can and I'm pretty sure that if all of us do the best we can to be what we want to be, that we can make this world what Dr. Martin Luther King wanted it to be."
Hopkins says King's work will never be finished but he says, with future leaders like the kids at West Lake, we are on the right path.
Hopkins does the assembly every year the week before the holiday, and he has a special interest in West Lake Junior High. He used to be a student there himself.