Colin Powell Middle School students, staff reflect on his legacy after death

MATTESON, Ill. (WLS) -- Students at Colin Powell Middle School in south suburban Matteson had a moment of silence in Colin Powell's memory Monday morning.

"I was thinking about how much of a leader he was and how much he has inspired the students at this school," said Leilani Barnes, eighth grader.

RELATED | Colin Powell dies at 84 of COVID-19 complications

Amir Lewis, an eighth grader, said he admired Powell's character.

"He was a very good person, the first U.S. Black Secretary of State," he said. "He means a lot of things to me."

It was exactly 15 years ago Powell visited the school, shortly after the school opened in 2006.

"He was in the Chicago area. It was nothing that was planned. He actually reached out to our district office and he said he wanted to come visit the school," said Veronica Franklin, Elementary School District 159 board member.

Franklin said Powell spoke with eighth graders about his career in the military and government. Her niece was a student at the school at the time.

"He was able to come in and be a living example in front of our Black and brown students," she said.

Before Powell's visit, he wrote a letter to the school saying that he's received many awards and honors, but nothing pleases him more than to have a wonderful school named after him. The letter is one of many keepsakes on display to inspire students to reach their potential.

"It says a whole lot especially for our students to see there is someone of color reached such great heights," said Dr. Jason Black Streeter, principal.

The flag was lowered to half-staff outside the school. District officials said they're planning a way to honor Powell on Veteran's Day and during Black History Month.

"We want them to know you can be a leader and do anything that you put your mind to," said Sharee Morton, school board president.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.