Benefo among King award recipients at 30th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

“I am confident when we come together for positive change, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome.” United States Senator Ben Cardin


William Quansah

Kojo Benefo poses with his parents and Principal Nancy Doll.

by William Quansah, Editor

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Attendants of the 30th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King celebration ceremony were greeted by this message in their brochures from United States Senator Ben Cardin:

“I am confident when we come together for positive change, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome.”

FCPS holds an MLK celebration ceremony each year to remember the works of Dr. King and other civil rights activists, while also honoring students who share Dr. King’s values of freedom, justice, and equality for all.

Held on January 9, at Thomas Johnson Governor High School, the celebration’s theme is “From the past, we create our future”. Michelle Concepcion, FCPS director of Special Education, explained what this means when giving the ceremony’s opening remarks.

“FCPS wants to acknowledge what has been done in the past that has allowed discrimination and disrespect against different races, religions, ethnicities, etc. to occur. By analyzing the mistakes we have made, we are able to figure out how to prevent them from happening again.” Concepcion said.

Nominated students from each FCPS school who demonstrate Dr. King’s values were awarded a certificate and medal for their hard work. Senior Kojo Benefo, represented Linganore at the event.

Despite there being multiple nominees by Linganore teachers to receive the King award, principal Nancy Doll believes Kojo was the best candidate.

“Kojo genuinely cares about others and is always kind and respectful. He has evolved as a student leader in the Student Voices program. He has challenged himself academically by participating in the Project Lead The Way pre-engineering program.” said Ms. Doll.

Benefo, who currently has a 4.3 weighted GPA and is also the president of Linganore’s African American Culture Club, is humbled to have received the King award for Linganore.

It means a lot to have been chosen. I’m happy to know the things I’ve done at Linganore hasn’t gone unnoticed. I would like to thank the Linganore staff for choosing me.

After Concepcion’s opening remark there were performances of The Star-Spangled Banner by the FCPS Academy for the Fine Arts Vocal Ensemble, and Lift Every Voice and Sing by Angela H. Spencer and Alex Hayes. The rest of ceremony was conducted by Oakdale high school seniors Megan Chang, Daniel Ivanov, and Zoe Turner nominated. The three seniors were elected by Oakdale staff based on their character as well as drive to succeed academically.

In between awarding students, Ballenger Creek and Urbana Elementrary schools’ choruses performed, as well as Tuscarora high schools jazz ensemble.

When asked about his impressions on the ceremony, “hope” was the main thing Benefo gained from the experience.

“It was [the ceremony] amazing. I have greater hope there are still people who serve there community as well as hope in a world where all people can coexist peacefully.”