Lynwood – Nearly 60 Lugo Elementary School third-graders, inspired by talks from Delta Air Lines employees during a Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) celebration, studied the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and even wrote letters thanking the civil rights leader for fighting to obtain racial equality during the 1950s and 60s.

Lugo Elementary hosted two airplane captains, one flight attendant and four baggage handlers to the Jan. 11 event, when students learned about the importance of King’s message of racial equality during the Civil Rights era. The captains read “Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Doreen Rappaport, then all the guests took questions explaining their careers.

“Our students’ eyes lit up when the saw the pilots walk into their class wearing their full uniforms and they really engaged in the story about Dr. King,” Lugo Elementary School Principal Dionne Garner said. “Our students asked great questions to the guests and one of the pilots was from (King’s hometown of) Atlanta, Georgia so he had some inspiring words for them about Dr. King and how his legacy touched his life.”

Third-grade teacher Maria Hernandez said the event motivated students to learn about the Civil Rights era and the idea of seeking nonviolent ways to solve problems.

“The book had a passage about using words and not fists in an argument, and the kids remembered that – it really taught students a good lesson about behavioral skills and how to act in the real world,” Hernandez said. “The kids loved the event because our guests were very enthusiastic about Dr. King’s message.”

After the book reading, the Delta Air Lines employees answered questions about their day-to-day lives working for the airline industry and how pilots remain calm while flying during scary situations. They also outlined the importance of education to the students, urging them to maintain good study habits and to consider higher education.

“We would like to thank all of the Delta employees for taking the time to visit Lugo Elementary to talk to students on a day of remembrance for such an important historical figure,” Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “Events like this make lasting impressions on our students.”

Garner said the school is considering asking the Delta Air Lines employees to return and will also consider inviting local firefighters and police officers for future events.

“The DEAR Martin Day event proved to be a major success for our students at Lugo Elementary,” Lynwood Unified Board President Alfonso Morales said. “Beyond learning about the importance of Dr. King, our students also learned from our amazing guests the value of a good education and how it can lead to a meaningful career.”

011618_LUSD_MLKDAY1: Lugo Elementary School third-graders pose with a Delta Air Lines flight attendant during a Jan. 11 event that celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

011618_LUSD_MLKDAY2: A Delta Air Lines captain visits with third-graders at Lugo Elementary as the school welcomed Delta employees on Jan. 11 for an event that celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.