Animated history

The small room was filled with recognizable faces spanning centuries. Andy Warhol was cool in short-waisted black suit and shades. Lucille Ball’s poodle skirt swirled around her knees. Babe Ruth was ready to hit another homer out of the ball park. Nancy Reagan checked her headband and tidied her prim-and-proper attire. Sacagewea rested from leading the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Teddy Roosevelt adjusted his eye glasses and mustache, while Honest Abe looked serious in his long, black coat and period hat.

All were third-graders at Wasuma Elementary School. To complete their Social Studies unit, the 18 students in Gabriele Franck’s class selected a hero in American history, wrote an essay, created a poster board filled with facts and photos, and dressed the part before giving their presentations to the class.

Presentations were followed by questions and compliments. All was in preparation of the Wax Museum event, held recently at the school, where the students stood motionless, until a “button” was pushed and they came to life, giving a brief summary of their lives as heroes.

“They have been working on this project since the beginning of February,” Franck said. “The kids have really been interested, and have done all the research on their Chrome Books. This has taught them what these individuals did for this country, and why we still talk about them today.”

It not only gave the students the opportunity to learn about a specific person in history, but to learn facts on heroes classmates had chosen.

Finley Pierce was Nancy Reagan. “She started ‘Just say No’ (to drugs), and was married to Ronald Reagan. It was a small place where they got married, and there were a lot of antiques. I want to get married in a place like that someday.” When one of the classmates asked when she died, Pierce paused, “ummmm ....” Her teacher came to her rescue, explaining the former first lady was still alive.

Sophia Neeley was Sally Ride, the first female and youngest astronaut in space. Neeley told the class that Ride was in space about 14 days at the age of 32, and that she died at 61 from “patriotic cancer.” “That’s pancreatic cancer,” her teacher said.

“The kids were really into it, and dove into their particular hero. Family and friends who attended Wax Museum night were amazed at how much detail the kids knew,” Franck said. “Andy Warhol (Daniel Effle) even made three or four silk screens because Warhol was known for making art from computer animated images. This was such a great hands-on learning experience for the children. They really had fun, and enjoyed sharing what they had learned.”