■ By Alex Cass / Contributed
ASPIRE Community Day School students have been learning about the brave men and women who made major contributions and sacrifices during World War II. Throughout these history lessons students began to focus on the first African-American fighter pilots during WWII known as the Tuskegee Airmen, or Red Tails.
In an effort to engage students in the lesson plan, ASPIRE Counselor La Verne Williams-Schoonover invited Theodore Lumpkin, intelligence officer for the Tuskegee Airmen 332nd Fighter Squad Division, and Robert Porter, a retired Air Force pilot and president of the Tuskegee Airmen Buford A. Johnson (Inland Empire) Chapter, to present their stories to students.
Lumpkin and Porter spoke to students in different grade levels and were able to have honest conversations with the students about challenges they faced. Prior to the visit, eighth grade students presented their research to their classmates on the challenges faced by Tuskegee Airmen.
Ninth grade students discussed literature written during WWII and how the war influenced it. Tenth grade students watched the film Red Tails and engaged in classroom discussion about racial divides, struggles, and achievements made by the Tuskegee Airmen.
Juniors and seniors watched the documentary Double Victory and discussed the importance of persistence and perseverance. All of the work students did ahead of time allowed for the students, Lumpkin, and Porter to have engaging conversations about adversity and perseverance.
Williams-Schoonover said this interaction allowed students an amazing opportunity to learn about history and then meet individuals who made and continue to make a difference.
“They inspired me to keep moving forward and never give up on my dreams,” said Aleea Moore, ASPIRE senior.