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GARY | Watson Academy fifth-grader Job Smith said he was thrilled and excited to meet the man for whom his school was named.

Smith, 10, a student at the Bernard C. Watson Boys Academy in Gary, didn't just meet renowned educator and Gary native Bernard C. Watson, he also shared the stage with him Thursday morning. Smith served as master of ceremony for a Black History Day program honoring Watson's visit to the city and school.

"Dr. Watson went through the Gary schools, then earned a Ph.D," Smith said in awe.

"One of the things that I am learning by listening to him is not to let anything get in the way of my education," Smith said. "I've been at this school since third grade and I've learned a lot here. I'd like to be part of making this world a better place."

Watson told more than 100 students, parents, teachers and community residents who attended the program that he was proud to be visiting the school that was named for him.

"I am blown away by the many young men here who have comported themselves with dignity," Watson said. "The school system in Gary prepared me for the things that I did in life. Going to Roosevelt, the only black school in Gary, was one of the best things that ever happened to me."

The Watson Academy is the only all-boys school in Northwest Indiana. The school has about 198 students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Watson told the students when he sees them line up without teachers scolding them, that means they understand the rules.

"When I see the principal hold up two fingers to command attention and quiet, that means you understand the rules," Watson said.

"That means when you leave here, you will understand what you need to do and that you are capable of dealing with any obstacle in your path," he said. "That's what education does for you. It prepares you, as the next generation, to run the city and the country."

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.