Mars Elementary students bring history to life in 'wax museum'

February 16, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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ADAMS TWP — Presidents past and present were brought to life at the Mars Elementary School Friday for the school's annual “Our Wax Museum of Presidents and First Ladies,” featuring the students of Jennifer McClelland's and Kim Thomas' third-grade classes.

Students donned costumes and personas of an historical president or first lady and recited a speech researched, written, typed and edited by the students.

“They get to pick their president or first lady out of a hat, and they can change if they want, and then we do a lot of research online,” McClelland said. “I have a lot of websites and books from the library so we try to make sure they're using books and accessing the Internet.”

Students then write and practice their speeches, outlining the life of their figure and adding fun facts.

“Then we do a lot of practicing,” McClelland said.

Scores of parents, grandparents and guardians attend the event, situated in the school cafeteria, every year, and at 2:30 p.m. the museum doors opened.

“Hi, my name is Edith Roosevelt,” third-grader Emma Grace said. “I married Theodore Roosevelt. He was the 26th president of the United States of America ... While I was first lady I had to manage both my family of six children and the White House social duties.”

Next to her sat Joseph Pietropaolo, decked out in flannel, hat, gold glasses and a false mustache.

“Hi my name is Teddy Roosevelt,” he began. “A fun fact is that the teddy bear was named after me.”

Parents could hear the biographies of many of the presidents and first ladies, with students dressed in period clothes with wigs and felt-looking facial hair.

“It went really well,” McClelland said. “The kids did a great job. “

McClelland first began the project 15 years ago, when she started as a teacher, along with another teacher who is no longer there. She brought on Thomas and ultimately the project expanded outside the classroom and into the cafeteria.

McClelland said she hopes the projects help students connect with history and with the historical figures they portrayed.

“I think what they get out of it the most is just some funny little things about each president or first lady,” she said, “and I hope it just sparks their interest in our history.”

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