Utah elementary school celebrates name change honoring first black, female NASA engineer

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Salt Lake City school celebrated its new name change with some historical figures on Thursday.

Mary W. Jackson Elementary School welcomed family members of the late Mary W. Jackson, who was the first black female NASA engineer in 1985.

Her story was told in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures.” Students welcomed Jackson’s only living daughter, Carolyn Jackson, and her family and friends to their school to help them celebrate their choice to name their school after her mother.

“It’s really cool cause we are really proud of having a female role model,” said sixth grade student Marisol Serrano.

“It’s really inspiring because we got to see how Mary Jackson was like,” said sixth grader Cinthya Mancilla.

“I had one student show up at 6:30 this morning, he just couldn’t wait to for the event and to help make the documentary about the significant name change,” said Dr. Jana Edward, the school's principal.

The school is also making a documentary about the name change to remember their journey to get there. Several sixth grade students were chosen to do the interviews for the film. They interviewed Jackson’s family members and the community who attended the event, including a Fox 13 News anchor who covered the story.

Carolyn Jackson was moved by the school’s mission to make a change from their old school’s name: Andrew Jackson Elementary School.

“We are not looking for money, we are not looking for fame, we didn’t get any of that with the movie; this is what she would have wanted us to do, look after the children,” said Carolyn Jackson. “I’m so proud; my mother would be so proud. I know she is looking down from heaven.”

The documentary will be out in a couple of weeks. The John Lennon Education Tour Bus is a mobile film and music studio that is working with the sixth graders to make the documentary. Their staff and engineers are teaching the students how to use their iPads and Apple technology to produce and execute the interviews of the Jackson family, the community and the school members involved in the documentary.

The bus tours the country and helps teach children about film and music production for free. Yoko Ono helped start the bus project 21 years ago along with Brian Rothschild, the co-founder and executive director of the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.

If you want to learn more about the bus, click here.

Fox13 will update this story when the student’s documentary is released.