STOCKBRIDGE — Hundreds of flag-waving and cheering Stockbridge Elementary School students welcomed 1st Lt. Andrea Lewis to a celebration assembly in her honor Friday morning.

Lewis will become the first black female pilot to deploy with the Georgia Air National Guard later this year.

“I’m truly excited to be here,” Lewis said to cheering students. “I didn’t expect this.”

Lewis’ identical twin sister, Victoria Pierrie, is a kindergarten teacher at the school. She stood with their family, shedding a tear, while watching the school welcome her sister.

“This is a historical moment,” Beatrice Holmes said to students at the assembly. “This is Black History Month and we’ve been learning about African-Americans contributions to history and now we are witnessing it.”

Lewis, a former Delta Air Lines flight attendant, said she was inspired to get into aviation by her mother, also Delta Air Lines flight attendant. She encouraged students to “keep their eye on the prize” and follow their dreams.

“Never give up. If you have a goal or a dream, know it takes a lot of work,” she said. “You have to be good in school and don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it.”

Lewis has been a pilot with the Georgia Air National Guard for two years. She said she’s looking forward to deploying.

“I’ll help keep our country safe,” she said. “I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Lewis thanked students for their inspiration.

“Thank you so much,” she said. “You’ve inspired me to go out there and do my very best.”

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