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Martin Luther King Festival This Sunday

Area school children will pay tribute to legendary Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., this Sunday, Jan. 19, at the ninth annual King Festival.

Presented by the Chantilly Pyramid Minority Student Achievement Committee (CPMSAC) and the Westfield High PTSA, it will be held from 4-6 p.m. in the Westfield High auditorium at 4700 Stonecroft Blvd. in Chantilly. (Snow date is Jan. 26).

This year's theme is "Allow the Legacy to Continue through all of God's Children." Admission is free; contributions to the CPMSAC scholarship fund may be made at the door.

Charles Ivey of Chantilly's Century Oak community is the program chairman, and he's pleased that so many students wanted to participate. "I had an overwhelming response — especially from the elementary schools," he said. "I'm glad for their young enthusiasm."

And because he likes the children to run the entire program, themselves, both emcees are high-school students. They are Lauren Hicks and Jason Price, a freshman and junior, respectively, at Chantilly High.

Students from many different grade levels will perform, honoring Dr. King's birthday in song, dance and recitation. Centerpiece of the show, said Ivey, will be Lees Corner Elementary's 120-student, fifth-grade chorus, which will perform two songs.

Westfield High's Step team members will dazzle the crowd with elaborate movements and rhythm, using their hands and feet, and the school's choir may also perform. Centreville Elementary's fifth-grade chorus will sing, "The Dream of Martin Luther King" and "The Road to Freedom."

Singing together will be third-graders Sydney Collier, 9, of Poplar Tree Elementary and Carmen Watson, 8, of Greenbriar West Elementary. Also participating from GBW will be students Arenn Martin and Danielle Olson. Performing from Centre Ridge Elementary will be the advanced-strings students.

A vocal trio from Centreville High will sing, "The Storm is Crossing Over," and a chamber quartet from that school will perform, as well. From Oakton High, senior Renee Robinson will read the poem, "Still I Rise," by Maya Angelou. Junior Coreen Wright will sing the spiritual, "His Eye is on the Sparrow," and sophomore Samantha Nuamah will dance to "My Redeemer."

Three boys from Willow Springs Elementary will also entertain. Troy Thomas, third-grade, and his brother Deon, fourth-grade, will share the stage. Troy will perform two songs on the piano, "Bourbon Street Saturday Night" — a jazz piece, and "La Styruebbe." Deon's two numbers will include "La Petite Reunion." In addition, fifth-grader Christopher Battle will perform a drum solo.

Brookfield Elementary is sending its fifth- and sixth-grade dancers and chorus. The dancers will perform a number called "Harriet Tubman," and the chorus will sing, "I Have a Dream."

Elizabeth Higgins, a seventh-grader from Stone Middle School, will sing a solo. Participating from Fox Mill Elementary will be students Ester Kim, Christa Purinton and Amanda Smith. Six students from Floris Elementary will perform "Wade in the Water" on the recorder, and children from London Towne Elementary are also expected to perform.

"We look forward to this event each year," said Ivey. "Now, in our ninth year, we hope for record attendance to raise money for the scholarship fund and celebrate Martin Luther King's legacy by showcasing the talent of our children."

CPMSAC serves the Centreville, Chantilly, Oakton and Westfield high schools pyramid and consists of 31 schools. It's a community-based organization founded more than 16 years ago by Chantilly residents Shirley and Johnny Nelson. Its goal is to provide a means of improving the academic performance and aspirations of minority students and, in 1995, CPMSAC received the Fairfax County Human Rights Award for all its efforts and accomplishments.