ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Middle school students at the Community School honored two Roanoke Valley residents with the title of “local heroes” on Friday afternoon for demonstrating the same commitment to social justice and civil rights as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1996, the Community School started an elective class known as the Local Hero Award Committee where students enjoy a unique learning experience to understand the true meaning of civil rights.
“The students and the children can really have that dedication to social justice, be really conscious citizens, and learn that because that’s really what education should be about, that’s really what this school does so well,” says 8th grader Dashiell Larson-Harris.
For the past six weeks, students like Larson-Harris have been studying the significance of civil rights in both the past and the present before deciding on which local residents demonstrated an influential role in the community while also embracing humanitarianism, altruism, and social conscience.
This year, the Community School honored Anna Copplestone and Xavier Duckett as Roanoke’s local heroes.
Copplestone — who serves as the Executive Director of the Roanoke Community Garden Association — describes her title of “hero” as overwhelming and very humbling.
“My first thought was ‘I don’t care that much about what adults think about what I do,’ but what children think and what children see and what their judgment is on what I do really matters to me, so this is a big deal to me,” says Copplestone.
Duckett, the creator of a local nonprofit organization known as The Humble Hustle says he is proud that the entire organization is being recognized for its community impact.
“Immediately I looked up the definition of hero and it spoke about courage and in the time and period of building Humble Hustle and the things that it took, it felt pretty good to know that the team, not only I, but the team is being recognized for all the work that we do in the community and even a local school, the kids are seeing that and it’s inspiration,” says Duckett.