ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska high school students will get the opportunity this year to learn about the work African-American soldiers did 75 years ago to help build the Alaska Highway.

Alaska Public Media reported ( ) Friday retired teacher Jean Pollard led the effort to get the Anchorage School District to teach what she calls an important part of the state’s history.

Pollard learned about seven years ago more than 3,000 African-American soldiers helped build the Alaska Highway during World War II.

Pollard says as a student she learned about the U.S. Army building the highway in 1942 to defend the state from invasion by Japan, but didn’t know more than a third of the 11,000 soldiers who built it were black.

Anchorage schools will begin using the lessons this fall.