More than two dozen St. Mark’s students, faculty, and staff members spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day giving back to the community. Together with hundreds of volunteers from around DFW, they cleaned and restored Shelton’s Bear Creek Cemetery in Irving. Historians believe that more than 200 slaves, former slaves, and their family members are buried there, many in unmarked graves. The cemetery, which once sat on private property, had become overgrown and unattended until a local community leader organized the cleanup.
St. Mark’s varsity cross country and track & field coach John Turek heard about the project and decided to take part. Through John’s coordination, St. Mark’s Community Service team organized 28 student volunteers and supplied flags for the gravesites. Five members of St. Mark’s maintenance team also joined them in the cleanup. For about four hours on Monday, January 21, the St. Mark’s group joined hundreds of volunteers at Shelton’s Bear Creek, clearing brush, pulling weeds, and repairing some of the fences and monuments. As they worked, they also learned.
“Anthony Bond, the man who organized the cleanup, spoke of the timing of this project and the message of MLK on this special day,” said Coach Turek. “Anthony talked about honor and respect for all people from all backgrounds working together to restore this cemetery to its rightful place in our history.”
Now, Anthony Bond is hoping to turn the cemetery into a historic landmark to preserve the burial grounds and bring more awareness to the site.
On Wednesday, January 23, Eugene McDermott Headmaster David W. Dini reflected upon the life of Martin Luther King Jr. during Upper School Chapel and expressed his appreciation for the boys who attended the cleanup. “I’m grateful for and proud of your commitment to everyone in our city, especially those who might otherwise be overlooked. Treating everyone with dignity, respect, compassion, empathy, and care is simply fundamental to the health, strength, and wellbeing of any community, including ours. It’s incumbent upon all of our to treat everyone we encounter with the same kindness, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness that we would extend to members of our own family or our closest friends.”
Mr. Dini’s talk to the Upper School Chapel followed two other talks presented by CJ Crawford ’19 during Middle School Chapel and by Shane Ndeda ’19 during Lower School Chapel. You can watch all three of these talks below and learn more about the cleanup at Shelton’s Bear Creek Cemetery in the stories that aired on CBS11
, and NBC5