Port St. Joe Elementary School’s John Nolan Treglown summarized what he and his class had learned crafting a project to celebrate notable figures in the African-American history.


Port St. Joe Elementary School’s John Nolan Treglown summarized what he and his class had learned crafting a project to celebrate notable figures in the African-American history.



“It would be really hard to be judged not by your skills but by the color of your skin,” said the mature-beyond-his years sixth-grader.



Treglown and classmate Lauren Tomlinson and the rest of their class put together a poster of the Red Tails, a noted Army Air Force division memorialized in a major motion picture several years ago.



They were noted for the red tails they painted on their planes and for overcoming discrimination to become a fighting force of distinction during World War II.



“We were learning about them in class anyway,” Treglown said. “We learned that the Red Tails were the first African-American flying division and they didn’t have very good planes because people wanted to shut them down.”



Tomlinson picked up the tale, “Due to discrimination people wanted to shut them down because they didn’t think black people should be in the Army. Even the whites didn’t want them.



“What we learned is that people in the Army should fight together, regardless of the color of their skin.”



The school set out to celebrate Black History Month with a project to highlight as many famous African-Americans as possible.



Each class drew a name from a bucket; or in the case of Treglown’s and Tomlinson’s class, picked an individual or organization they were studying.



From there, each class settled on a course for putting together what amounted to a science project, but this one profiling a prominent, and in some cases obscure, African-American of note.



There were projects based on Oprah Winfrey, Wally Amos of cookie fame, President Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson.



There were also projects about Jan Ernst Matzleiger, who invented the shoe making machine; Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman pilot; Garrett Morgan, who invented the hair-straightener, stoplight and gas mask; and “Aunt” Susie Hartsfield from Two Egg who returned to school in the 1970s at the age of 102 and was taught, in part, by the mother of a teacher at Port St. Joe Elementary School.



“We had Charles Drew who was the first person to store blood,” said fifth-grader Jazmyne Farmer. “We broke the project into parts. It was fun coming together and learning about people. We did a lot of teamwork. We did great.”



The fourth-grade class of Lauren Jenkins selected Alex Haley, most known for his autobiography of Malcolm X as well as his groundbreaking book Roots, which became a much-lauded television miniseries.



“He was a journalist and got his start in the Coast Guard,” Jenkins said, before noting the title of the project, “Find the good and praise it.” “I like that. Find the good and praise it. That is cool.”