Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 30, 2013

History comes alive

Students dress as historical characters

Mike James
The Independent

ASHLAND — William Beardsley wore blue pinstripes and a blue patterned tie, one corner a bit askew befitting the rakish character of the man he was portraying — President John F. Kennedy.

On request William was prepared to outline the salient facts of Kennedy’s public life, from his election in 1960 as the first Catholic president of the United States to his assassination in Dallas in 1963.

He got a lot of requests Tuesday. William is one of the third-graders in Tracy Penix’s class at Holy Family Catholic School, and all of them were enacting one historical character or another in what Penix called a wax museum.

This week is Catholic Schools Week and Tuesday was parent lunch visitation day for the third grade, so families milled about Penix’s classroom to see their children bring the past to life in full historical regalia and tables crammed with artifacts.

There was Neil Armstrong in a space suit and helmet, Annie Oakley in red cowboy hat and Daniel Boone in buckskins and a sure-enough coonskin cap.

Ellen Heaberlin, portraying Eleanor Roosevelt, wore a vintage black coat and felt hat and displayed a selection of photographs from the late first lady’s life. Her favorite photo depicts Roosevelt with the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“It shows something really important she did. She helped with human rights,” Ellen said.

Jade DeGiorgio chose Laura Ingalls Wilder, wearing a gingham bonnet such as Laura might have worn in her little house. “I know a lot about her because I’ve read her books,” Jade said. “Little House in the Big Woods” is her favorite.

The wax museum project inspires the children to learn, said Gene DeGiorgio, who was there both as Jade’s father and because he is chairman of the school council. “It sparks the children to learn in unconventional ways. When you harness their imagination, they learn more because it’s more interactive.”

Each of the children chose an important historical personality, did the appropriate research and recreated the character, Penix said.

Besides teaching history, the project prepares them for public speaking, because it demanded they make an oral presentation upon request by visitors, Penix said.

This year’s theme for National Catholic Schools Week is “Raising Standards” and supports the launch of national standards for effective education in Catholic schools.

Holy Family children also are doing service projects, including making cards for nursing homes and shut-ins, tray favors for the Community Kitchen and nursing home visits.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.

com or (606) 326-2652.