Students Step Up to Step Back

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For students at Wright Elementary in Fort Walton Beach, Wednesday was a day to step out of the classroom and into history, aboard a bus.

The Brown versus Board of Education African-American history bus gives students a first-hand look at how far the country has come, especially in the last 50 years.

"For the students themselves, I think it's important that they know what other people did on their behalf so they don't take education lightly," said Audrey Williams, with the Sylvania Heights Front Porch association. Williams served as the kids' tour guide on the bus.

Seeing students of all colors learning together was the stuff of dreams 50 years ago.

At the time, segregation was the norm. Brown versus the Board of Education changed all that. Some of the pictures on the bus are from Bay County’s past and present, including shots from segregated schools like Lynn Haven Grammar School.

There's a picture of the class of 1944, along with shots from the school's glee club in the 1940s. Contrast that with a shot of the graduates from 2003 and students see today's world is different from the world of their parents and grandparents.

"I think it's a nice thing so you can learn stuff about what happened a long time ago," said Keisha Baldwin, a student at Wright Elementary. "It’s very cool," said Brian Serven, also a student at Wright Elementary.

The history bus has been touring for more than a month. Its next stop is Jacksonville and then Tallahassee.

The bus is a presentation of the Florida Department of Education.