CHICAGO (CBS) — Students at an elementary school in the Chatham neighborhood were given intellectual treats as part of their African-American studies on this last day of Black History Month.

Police from the Gresham District presented African-American history books for the classroom libraries in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades at Ruggles Elementary School at 78th and Prairie.

“Students have to understand where we came from, how things were developed, and how they’re going to pave the way to create history in their own time,” said Ruggles Principal Stephen Parker.

The idea came from Officer Richard Wooten, the beat liaison officer for district

“A lot of our kids don’t understand their history, so therefore they don’t know or appreciate … exactly what a quality education is, and what our ancestors did to actually get them into the seats they’re in today,” he said. “You look at the young people today, ask them about Rosa Parks, ask them about Thurgood Marshall (and) a lot of them don’t know who they are. So a sense of our history has been lost.”

Gresham District Cmdr. Fred Waller presented the books to the classrooms, and told the students the books might even “inspire you to go down the path of some of these people that you’ll read about in these books.”

Wooten said 166 of the African-American history books will be donated to classrooms throughout the Gresham District. The books were bought using the department’s community policing youth fund.

One group of 6th graders joined in a chorus of “thank you” as the police left their room. Another 6th grade class applauded.