When the Roland Park Country School (RPCS) girls gather on Thursday afternoon to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., they will hear from two writers, Sahar Simmons and Henna Fraiman. Simmons, the author and creator of the Briana’s Neighborhood children’s book series, is well known in the RPCS community and beyond, but Henna's notoriety at this point is limited to the Middle School--specifically the 7th grade. Henna is the winner of the Middle School's annual Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest.
While this year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s famous I have a Dream speech, Henna chose to focus on Coretta Scott King in her essay, which reads in part:
Coretta Scott King was a very important person in American history. Some people only knew her as the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., but when you learn more about her you find out that she is much more than that. She once said, “My story is a freedom song of struggle. It is about finding one’s purpose, how to overcome fear and to stand up for causes bigger than one’s self.”
Sahar Simmons and her Dare to Dream
The featured convocation speaker Sahar Simmons, started her career in the sports industry working for high profile organizations from the U.S. Olympic Committee, and TNT Sports, to professional sports teams. She later transitioned into film as an Associate Producer and worked on major Hollywood films and television productions such as: Collateral, Be Cool, Roll Bounce and MTV Punk’d.
But it was Simmons' dream to make a change in how young girls of multi-cultural backgrounds are portrayed, so she created a series of books featuring the lovable and positive Briana, a young African American girl living in a multi-generation household. Her mother has a successful career, while her grandmother is full of sage advice. The Briana's Neighborhood book series has grown to include the Dare to Dream Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving young girls with multi-cultural backgrounds who dare to dream and achieve success.
"There are ultimately no limitations to personal success, only the vision to accomplish them," says Simmons who wants her books series and foundation to be a tool of encouragement for kids "to work hard and believe in yourself."
It's sound advice for Henna and all the girls at Roland Park Country School.