A “King’s” vision

January 20, 2023

On Monday, Jan. 16, The Cheshire Academy community participated in a daylong series of programming celebrating the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Starting off the day was a keynote address from Lex Gillette, Paralympian and World Athletics medalist. During his presentation, Gillette spoke about losing his sight when he was 8 years old and the difficulties he faced as a result. He reflected on the support he received from his mother and high school athletics coach, the latter of whom guided Gillette to become a member of the school’s basketball team, and later an athletic career in the Paralympics.

Gillette noted that King stepped out of his comfort zone and challenged a system that had been in place for years because of a vision he had. Vision, according to Gillette, can be a driving force behind change. For him, it allowed him to be a member of the basketball team, and to get to where he is today.

“A lot of things we experience right now, he saw those things because of a vision he had,” Gillette said. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to live his life and see a lot of the things he spoke of.”

Gillette spoke about still having a vision, despite losing his sight. In January 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games when someone at the San Diego-based training facility tested positive, shutting down group training. His vision had him going to the Games so, in order to train, he woke up early in the morning, and would set up his phone and a Bluetooth speaker as markers on the track to identify where he should start and stop his exercises.

“Vision allows you to see past your current reality,” Gillette said. “Vision allows you to see what you can be, what you can do, where you can go, and who you can become.”

Head of School Julie Anderson P’19,’23, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tanasia Lea ’09, Black Student Union advisor Alex Conaway, and senior master Chip Boyd P’10 also spoke about King’s upbringing, life, and vision, as well as Cheshire Academy’s involvement in honoring King. The Cheshire Academy choir sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Following Gillette’s address, students attended a series of workshops specific to self-care, love, joy, led by students, alumni, parents, and special guests. A BSU-sponsored lunch, marching alongside Cheshire residents in honor of King, and yoga closed out the day.

See photos from the day’s events on our Flickr photo gallery.