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Martin Luther King Day Activities

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you I will earn a small commission if you click through and purchase. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite ways to celebrate and commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These activities are great for MLK day, Black History month, or any time of year. Below I will share a few of my absolute favorite picture books that highlight his life and legacy, as well as my favorite place to find primary sources and lesson plans, a fun Reader’s Theatre, and of course a few of my favorite Freebies. Thanks again for being here.

 

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is a beautiful book that commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because of the focus on his words, this book is the perfect companion to the free MLK Quote activity available here.

I Have a Dream: Book and CD 

Another beautifully illustrated book. This book is wonderful, it pairs Dr. King’s most famous speech with breathtaking illustrations. There is something so powerful about using a picture book in the classroom. This one is sure to captivate your students as they hear first hand the words that helped change and continue to change the nation.

Martin Rising: Requiem For a King 

It’s honestly hard to put into words how much I love this book. If you are looking for something that stirs something inside you, that brings life to the man that changed history forever. You need this book, your students need this book. “Andrea’s stunning poetic requiem, illustrated with Brian’s lyrical and colorful artwork, brings a fresh perspective to Martin Luther King, the Gandhi-like, peace-loving activist whose dream of equality — and whose courage to make it happen — changed the course of American history. And even in his death, he continues to transform and inspire all of us who share his dream.” The author refers to her writing as “docu-poems” because of the historical and educational nature of her words. Read the reviews, the book is a knock-out.

 Primary Sources Pack a Punch. 

Some of the most memorable and impactful lessons I have conducted or participated in were due to primary sources being used. Primary sources are an immediate, first-hand account of a topic or time. They could be photographs, journal entries, letters, speeches, newspapers, advertisements, clothing or other artifacts…etc. Thanks to the internet primary sources are as easy as a click away. My favorite tool for accessing documents from the national archives is Docs Teach.  Docs Teach is an online resource FREE to educators, meant for educators. Once you register you can search primary sources, explore already prepared activities, or even create your own and save it to the database. Get this… you can even share activities and sources to GOOGLE CLASSROOM. You’re welcome. ?

  • When using primary sources in the classroom remember to set expectations. Before the lesson talk to them about how to appropriately react to the sources being used. Notify them that some of the sources may stir their emotions and that it’s ok, in fact, it could even be the whole purpose of the lesson.
  • David Kilpatrick, a teacher from Washington gives a few examples of how he uses primary sources in his classroom:

Simply sharing his famous, “I Have a Dream Speech” is the perfect use of a primary source in the classroom.

Scholastic Reader’s Theatre: Non-violence on the Move. 

You’ll come to learn I love reader’s theatre and the enthusiasm they bring. This is a great script for 3-5 graders. Whenever there is a limited amount of characters or roles, I simply split the class in two, or smaller groups depending on the number of parts. I always figured it was better for the student to play two parts than a non-speaking one. Something that worked well with dividing out the parts in the scripts was to write the roles on the whiteboard, and then call out students and have them write their name next to the part they wanted. Then I would give each student a script and have them go through and highlight their parts. When we were finished I would hold on to the scripts to use year after year!

Explore Lesson Plans from the King Institute: 

I had to share this resource! An absolute wealth of quality lesson plans that focus on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his life, legacy, beliefs, the time surrounding him…etc. Most of the lesson plans are geared towards 6th grade-12 graders. However, there are a few lessons for elementary students as well. These lesson plans are another example of using primary sources in the classroom and using them WELL.

 

Click Here to Become a Member & Access Downloads 

His Words Changed a Nation: Free Crossword Activity  

This activity is one of my favorites. Honestly, it was a really awe-inspiring to put this resource together. I was blown away by his wisdom and grace. I felt like I had done him and myself a disservice by only ever reading or focusing on one incredible speech when there was SO. MUCH. MORE.  Students complete this activity by studying some of his most impactful words, then using those words to answer the prompts for the crossword.

This is a FREE and exclusive activity to subscribed to teaching members here at OnLemonLane.com Click on the link above to download. Remember signing up to be a member is free and easy peasy Lemon Squeezy!

 

 

His Words Changed a Nation: Quote Activity

This activity makes a wonderful companion to the crossword puzzle. In this activity, students use the same quote sheet they used/will be used to complete the crossword puzzle. Except for this time they select a favorite quote from the sheet, cut it out, and glue it to the response sheet. A response sheet is a place for students to answer prompts, break down any unknown words, and apply the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words. This activity drives for some really beautiful class discussion. Even the simple question as to why one quote was selected over another can be really inspiring. I’m confident both you and your students will leave better after this activity. Because that’s the type of influence and change his words brought about… and still bring about.

 

 

His Words Changed a Nation: Art Project.

The final free activity I have for you is this simple gridline art project. Simply project the example of the finished image for all of the students to see. Then have students do their best to recreate the image. Because the large picture is broken into grids, students will work on one square at a time. Thus, simplifying the big picture. When their picture is complete, they can add color, or ink, or other mediums. I have also left an area for the students to again write their favorite MLK quote. These make for a great display on the bulletin board, or in the hall.

This activity is available to members of On Lemon Lane. Not a member, Not a problem! Sign-up is FAST, FREE, and easy-peasy, LEMON-squeezy!

 

 

 

 

If you liked the activities above and want more, make sure to check out this post for ideas and activities for Black History Month. Here you will find more freebies and another On Lemon Lane member exclusive. You can also share your own ideas or join in on the discussion happening on the Teaching on Lemon Lane Facebook Group!

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the activities listed, I would love to hear from you and how they go. I love to be tagged in your student’s work on Instagram! Happy Teaching!

To stay up-to-date on new blog posts, freebies, exclusive promo codes, and sales… Join the Teaching on Lemon Lane Community! Pick any or all of the following to stay in the loop of all things Teaching on Lemon Lane. 

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💡🚨PSA:🚨💡
ATTENTION ALL TEACHER FRIENDS
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Tag your #teachertribe and every #firstyearteacher below for this important reminder:
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As you set up your classroom for the new school year, and start divvying out materials… Do no forget to set aside 2-4 new student kits.
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Just like @adifferentiatedclass (shown in picture) I made sets using Gallon ziplocks.
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If you are in a developing community with new housing I recommend a minimum of 4 bags 🙀
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What to include:
🍋Name-tag/Desk-plate
🍋If you adhere the plates to the desk, have a segment of what you use in the pack.
🍋Welcome Treat (same one you’ve given to each student at the open house/back to school...etc.
🍋Whatever else you’ve set aside for students that begin on the first day of school.
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📣📣📣There will likely come a day when without warning you will be notified you have a new student, and the student will start THAT DAY. Save yourself and your poor new student the stress of frantically trying to get everything set up, by preparing NOW.
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Veteran teachers what else do you include in your new student kits?? Share in the comments below⬇️⬇️⬇️
📸: @adifferentiatedclass
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How satisfying/ beautiful 😻 is this #classroomorganization tip by @the_organized_classroom
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Use paint swatches as a visual to help students sort supplies! Keep this is mind as you set up your classroom for the school year!
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HELP ME BRAINSTORM:
What’s a brilliant #teacherhack you’ve tried or seen done with paint swatches??? Comment below 👇
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I’ll leave mine in the comments!
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Guys… I had a baby 🥰 Almost 10 months ago 😳 I STRUGGLE to consistently show up on this platform, but know how happy I am that you are here!
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There are a lot of new faces around here so I thought we should take the time to get to know each other!
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PLEASE comment below with what we have in common, or something we will never see eye to eye with 😜
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A few things to know about me😬
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🍋 My name is Tara, I’m the creator behind @teachingonlemonlane
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🍋 Lemon was my maiden name and my love for all things lemon runs deep.
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🍋 I’m a fresh lemonade connoisseur, and will not touch store bought/ from the tap.
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🍋 My patronus is a wolf 🐺 #potterhead
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🍋 A piece of my heart will always be in #5thgrade and New Orleans
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🍋 I’m a novice flower gardener and LOVE to experiment with different blooms.
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🍋 Ben and I will celebrate our 10 year this year and have 3 kiddos under 5 💀
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🍋 Go Red Sox ⚾️
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🍋#bucketlist item: New Zealand, Hobbiton, ride the #nevisswing 😳
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🍋 Teaching item(s) I can’t live without…Binder clips😎 You should see what I can #macgyver with a couple clips… also, flair pens. #cliché 🤓
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YOUR TURN: Tell me something about you in the comments!
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To my dear teacher friends still in school, I've got a FREE Father’s Day project I think you will love! Those of you are home with kiddos of your own, consider this fun activity for your Father’s Day Celebration! This is a great #endofyearproject that doubles as a #fathersdaygift 💛🍋💛
This product is available in both a printable and digital version that’s completely editable through Google. If you have a student or child interested in Digital Design, this is a fun way to introduce and experiment with different design tools. Because there are so many different types of situations and circumstances when it comes to a father the words father or dad are never actually used. Which makes this the perfect card to give to any figure that has taken on that important role. Whomever that is, they should be celebrated!
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Need #bulletinboardideas for March.... I’ve got you👊 like almost all of my Bulletin Board Kits, they center around student work and are made up of EASY TO CUT, Editable 🙊, ready to print and assemble slides!
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If you’ve followed me for long you know I love all things March and Irish ☘️ it’s in my blood 🙃
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My love of March shows in my resources, of all the months to have the most projects... March (of all the months???) is at the top of the list!
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I just added this CELTIC KNOT inspired Lucky Clover Craft and it turned out so fun! Use either the DIGITAL version and insert pictures into the leaves that represent why you’re lucky, or pick from one of the 18 different top layer options to create a beautiful clover like the one shown above! If you do go this route make sure to check out the EDITABLE bulletin board kit to really put these beauties on display!
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Do you love March? Why or why not? Drop a comment below 💛💛
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Selection Sunday and PI Day falling on the same day... Somebody pinch me. Two of my very favorites because of the projects you can start in your classroom 😍 Take for instance my March Math Madness PBL
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Think March Madness + Fantasy Basketball + Lots of Math + A sprinkle of ELA = Engagement & Excitement & Learning 💛🏀💛
Students are separated into the 4 divisions then work together to put together a new starting 5 from players in their division. #dreamteam Each round their individual players are awards point values for how they played. At the end of each round students will calculate their team’s total points and decide which dream team comes out victorious! There are some really great opportunities to see Math in action. There’s opportunity for measurement conversion, converting fractions to decimals, ordering decimals, ratios, mean-median-mode, adding and subtracting decimals, multiplying decimals...etc. This is quickly becoming another tried and true favorite in the classroom!
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Also if you think your too late to the table, the only thing you are late for is brackets! The dream team activity can be started before any round! Second round would actually be ideal 👊🏻👊🏻 LOTS of FREEBIE extensions for this product that can stand on their own! Head to the website for more details!
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The most beautiful illustration by @paigepayne_creations Keep reading for some of the most powerful quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King’s powerful, “I have a Dream,” speech:
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“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”
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“I have a dream that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
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“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
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“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed — we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
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“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”
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“In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.”
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“When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
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🎉🎉VISION BOARD G.I.V.E.A.W.A.Y
YOU GUYS!!! This one turned out better than I expected 😍😍😍 EVERYONE NEEDS A VISION BOARD.
🍋 TEACHERS
🍋 STUDENTS
🍋....EVERYONE
This became more and more apparent as I created this product and researched the value in having one. Due to it’s late debut in the #goalsetting season you can snag it at 50% off (the lowest price it will EVER be).
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In a nutshell, you and your students will create a digital vision board that will act as a daily reminder when you set it as your computer, tablet, or smart phone’s new wallpaper or lock screen! I’ve created 26 EASY to use templates that create completely customizable and BEAUTIFUL designs, along with over 150 moveable “stickers” to make something truly eye catching (one of the requirements of an effective vision board) If that weren’t enough, I wanted to make sure you had the support materials to provide a really complete and educational project. So I’ve also included over 30 support activities, video tutorials, and extensions. Students will learns about vision boards, what makes them effective, the elements of a wellness, their circle of control, SMART goal setting.... and MORE! I know you are going to love this and so will your students. Even more, I know this has the potential to make a difference and lead to growth, and that is pretty satisfying. I’ve been working hard on this beauty and I NEED to get it in some classrooms!
Want this pretty little thing for you and a #teacherfriend for FREE???
🍋Like this post
🍋Tag a Teacher Friend
🍋Comment one thing you would put on YOUR Vision Board
🍋Share this post to your story for EXTRA Juju
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Each year our family gives a favorite Christmas book to some of our loved ones. (I wish I was able to get my hands on more of them!😭) With the passing of author Tomie dePaola, it seemed appropriate to give one of his. Reading this book, THIS year, made me cry. I struggled to make it through as it highlighted my weaknesses and put into words what I've been trying to set aside and not deal with. Last year I had great intentions of celebrating a more Christ centered Christmas, December arrived and again my intentions remained only that. Reading this story struck a cord in my soul. I'm old Befana. There may only be a few days left until Christmas, but I'm going to be intentional with them. On that note, I'll be taking a break from social and working to reground myself with the foundation that matters, and refocus my attention on Him. Love you all, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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Head to my story for a swipe up of a reading of, ”The Legend of Old Befana, ” by the late Tomie dePaola
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Excerpt from a personal post 💛 Thank you all for your patience as we welcome the newest member of our little family🍓
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2020 the Year of the Poppies
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“... You may not know this about me, but I love gardening, especially flower gardens. I'm no good at it, and again my good intentions out do any action on my part, leaving an often neglected and overgrown sight, however, I still love it and love learning, reading, and experimenting with different blooms. One of my favorite flowers is a poppy. I think there is so much to be said about and learned from these flowers. From the alien-like tubers you plant, to the fury foliage it produces, one would NEVER think that something so weed-like could ever produce such a gorgeous sight... And then... It does. Is that not life? Is that not 2020? This year has been hard for everyone, especially for some that I love the most, and yet despite everything, there has been beauty.

I truly believe that some of life’s most beautiful moments are produced after the hard or ugly. Is that not the Gospel and Hope found in Christ? Through His Grace the hard and ugly things we go through can actually be the source of something really beautiful, something better than we could have imagined, even a better version of ourself? 2020 has been hard, it’s still hard. But because of that hardness I’ve seen growth and light and beauty that I never would have expected. From repaired and renewed relationships, to a new focus on family and what’s really important, to things working out when they shouldn’t, to a beautiful new addition to our family... The increase is through Him. I think for me 2020 will always be the year of the poppies.
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EEK! You guys, I’m SO excited about this one🍋😍🍋 Introducing the Morning Meeting you NEED in your classroom. This one does it ALL.

🍋Digital Daily Attendance
🍋SEL Learning & Awareness
🍋Grit & 🌱 Mindset Challenges
🍋Daily Interaction & Connection
🍋Build Classroom Community
🍋Improve Organization
🍋Daily Challenges & Class Games
🍋Set-Up Routines & Structure
🍋100% Paperless
🍋100% Virtual Classroom Ready
🍋100% Any Classroom Ready
🍋EDITABLE
➕➕➕SO MUCH MORE➕➕➕
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I’m SO sure you’re going to LOVE it, I’m giving ALL of the August slides away for FREE! If you want more information on how and when you can download ALL of August, comment below! Don’t forget to spread the love by tagging a teacher friend that NEEDS this!
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Guys. I don’t even know where to begin.... Except be on the lookout for this fun little DIGITAL project to be added today!
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🍋Students come up with a One Word Goal for the school year/ first term...
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🍋Students then create a “quilt” piece of their 1 Word, using figurative language and pictures to illustrate.
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🍋Students will then upload their piece to a COLLABORATIVE Class “quilt”
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🍋You can then use this Collaborative Class “Quilt” to create a DIGITAL Bulletin Board for your Virtual Classrooms, OR print it off and assemble in your actual classroom!
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🍋More details coming soon! Comment below if you have a Virtual classroom you would like to try this out with!
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PSA FOR ALL 5th GRADE TEACHERS:
No matter how you’re teaching this year, you’re going to want to add this resource to your tool belt.
Why?
🍋Includes Spiral #commoncorealigned Math AND Language/Grammar Work for the ENTIRE year
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🍋It DOUBLES as a Student Planner
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🍋Math Anchor Charts and Password Tracker INCLUDED.
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🍋No matter what the school year throws at you, this guy will #haveyourback.
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Check out my story for more information and a fun little tour from @topknoteacher
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This product will forever hold my heart. Maybe it was the countless hours, sweat and forethought that went into it..... or maybe it was the simple fact that it saved me my second year of teaching! Regardless if you are new to 5th grade or a seasoned veteran, this one is sure to be loved 💛💛💛
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Tag a 5th grade teacher in the comments! I’m thinking we should give one away 💛💛💛
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YOU GUYS. I am COMPLETELY swooning over this #teachingfromhome classroom setup! All the little details are speaking my love language💛 You’ve outdone yourself @how_i_teach_high_school
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For those of you teaching at home, what are your MUST HAVES??
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Comment below! Don’t forget to check out my latest posts for Digital Back to School activities for your UPPER GRADE Students!
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