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McKeesport student to celebrate Jackie Robinson's legacy

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Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Area eighth-grader Casey Harbert reviews a movie poster for '42' with Founders' Hall social studies teacher Brian DeCecco.
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Friday, April 18, 2014, 4:41 a.m.

McKeesport Area eighth-grader Casey Harbert will celebrate the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson at PNC Park on Friday.

Sharing her first-place entry in the annual Pittsburgh Pirates Jackie Robinson Art, Essay and Poetry Contest, Casey will step onto the baseball diamond as more than 38,000 fans prepare to watch the Buccos take on the Milwaukee Brewers at 7:05 p.m.

She designed a three-panel sketch of Robinson in action for a Black History Month project in Brian DeCecco's social studies class at Founders' Hall Middle School.

“I drew three pictures of him — sliding into home, hitting and fielding,” Casey recalled. “I added a quote about success.”

DeCecco's February lesson focused on Robinson's famous nine values of success: courage, determination, teamwork, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment and excellence.

“Jackie Robinson can be a real role model for athletes and all kids today,” he said. “At this age, kids don't know what he did. They see what athletes today do, but they don't know the history of it. It helps them see where people came from.”

While Casey was familiar with Robinson being an excellent athlete, she didn't know much about his life before the project.

“Everything was so much worse than we are told,” Casey said. “I learned things about Jackie Robinson that I didn't know before. I did know he was one of the first black baseball players, but I didn't know he was the very first.”

Casey said she was inspired by that accomplishment to illustrate his skill on the field. Her work was chosen from 3,200 entries. She will receive a certificate on the field before enjoying the game with five family members.

DeCecco said he's proud of Casey's accomplishment.

“We do this every year, and we get a lot of great entries,” he said. “We've had honorable mentions in the past, but this is our first district winner.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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