Wax museum brings history to life

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LILA fifth grader Kristine Murphy as poet Phillis Wheatley.

A classroom visitor walks up to a costumed student and pushes a hand-drawn button on his desk. The student responds, “Bonjour, my name is Benjamin Franklin. I speak several languages including French and Iroquois.” The student shares further details from Franklin’s life.

Fifth graders at Lakes International Language Academy (LILA) held a living wax museum on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the school. As part of their unit “Sharing the Planet,” students took on the personas of historical figures from colonial America and the American Revolutionary War period.

Each fifth grade student created and memorized a monologue, supplied props, and dressed in costume for the part. Other grade levels and staff attended the museum during the school day, and parents visited Tuesday evening. Visitors could request recitations in English or Spanish.

The central idea in the unit was that exploration and expansion lead to the restructuring of societies. Favorite characters included American pioneer and soldier Daniel Morgan, early colonist John Smith, First Lady Martha Washington, and African American poet and slave Phillis Wheatley.