Teacher Elizabeth Silver wants to impart art's role in culture and heritage to pupils at the Shelby Charter School in Tonto Village.
"We spend a week or more studying Martin Luther King Jr. and the culture he lived in," Silver said. "We want students to understand how, through leadership and experiences, one person can make a difference."
Students watched movies of Dr. King's life, read poetry and listened to some of the music of his era, but their study is not limited the third Monday in January, designated on the calendar at Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Each October, it has become a tradition for the entire student body of Shelby School to take up paints and create essay posters on the values of brotherhood and peace that King demonstrated.
The posters are then entered in Arizona State University's annual MLK poster contest.
Kindergartner Tanner O'Neil won first place for his poster in the primary category and will receive a $150 savings bond.
Melody Morris, a sophomore, won third place for her poster in the secondary category and will receive a $75 savings bond.
"Freedom of speech, freedom to be yourself and freedom to be accepted for yourself are things Martin Luther King taught and (African-Americans) were not accepted for so many years," Morris said.
"One of the benefits of being a really small school (just 70 students) is that older kids are able to guide the younger ones," Silver said.
Morris was able to help Tanner understand King's message so he could paint his own idea of it.
Go to the school's office and you cannot miss the tiles created by students. They are part of the beautification of the school grounds and each year new students get to create their own art tile for the ongoing project.
"Art enhances learning," Silver said.
Previous Shelby students who won ASU's MLK contest were -- 2005-06, Melody Morris, Jordan Plues and Merlyn York; 2004-05, Tziedl Harper; 2004-04, Scout Harper; 2002-03, Helene Galloway; 2001-02 Selena Schill.
"Entering the contest has become a school tradition," Silver said.