Christopher Columbus, Rachael Ray, Harriet Tubman and even the Obamas visited the Liberty County Board of Education on Tuesday evening to pose for photos, give speeches and offer glimpses of history to visitors who wandered through the massive lobby.
About 65 Taylors Creek Elementary students shared what they have learned over the past two months in class by participating in a “living wax museum” performance for parents and BoE staff members.
Each student chose a historical figure on which to base their in-depth research and written essay. They dressed in costumes and gave 30-second first-person presentations, TCE fifth-grade teacher Suzanne Russell said.
“It’s someone who has had a positive impact in history. They always surprise me. It’s also neat; they get to see it every year (before fifth grade), so it builds up their anticipation,” Russell said. “It’s learning about history and makes it fun. It’s not just a regular history test. It pulls in so many of the standards — writing, history, research.”
Parents and guests listened as students — dressed in attire representative of the era in which the historical figures lived — gave prepared speeches.
Shealyn Feise, 10, stood her ground as soft-spoken Jane Goodall, a pioneering British primatologist.
When asked her name she replied, “Jane Goodall” with a straight face, while cradling a small stuffed monkey in her arms. Feise rattled off various facts about her life with chimpanzees and how she won over the species’ trust by spending an abundant amount of time with the animals.
The program has been in place for six years and was started by Kathy Moody, who now is assistant principal at TCE. Russell said she took over the event planning and has enjoyed coordinating the fifth-grade class activity. The students also performed twice at TCE this week, with a total of 120 students participating in the grade-wide program.
Sophia Rodriguez, 11, knew she wanted to be Amelia Earhart since last year when she watched another fifth-grader piece together her research project.
“One of my good friends last year was Amelia Earhart. I was super-duper excited. It’s who I wanted to be from the beginning of fifth grade,” said Rodriguez, who was sporting a brown aviator cap, similar to Earhart’s. “I’ve definitely learned a lot about my character and other characters.”
Rodriguez said she would not know what to do if it were Earhart standing in front of her, listening, instead of her teacher.
“I would probably be a little starstruck. I would probably ask her to answer my questions,” she said. “They (historical figures), help us to be the leaders when we group up. (They are) our inspiration, who we strive to be like.”