Second graders come to historical life in ‘wax museum’
The Pueblo Chieftain. Jon Pompia. January 22, 2020.
Nearby, the accomplishments of another noted female leader were being recapped by Lilly Blair.

“Thank you for coming to hear me speak. My name is Michelle Obama, and I am best known for being the first African American first lady, and starting ‘Let’s Move!,’” Lilly declared. “One thing I am very proud of is my hard work for military families and helping children fulfill their promise.

“One of my most famous quotes is, ‘You don’t have to be somebody different to be important. You’re important in your own right.’”

On Wednesday, through the enlightening efforts of Hope, Lilly and their fellow second graders, the Fountain International Magnet School auditorium was transformed into a historical “wax museum,” with the stately young scholars adopting the persona of iconic leaders and innovators living and dead.

In the first of two sessions, there were several versions of the recently celebrated Martin Luther King Jr., with President Donald Trump, Booker T. Washington, Princess Diana, Nikola Tesla, Amelia Earhart, Jackie Robinson, Bill Gates and Helen Keller among the exhibits in this eclectic and informative gallery.

The living history presentation, part of the school’s International Baccalaureate program, was the culmination of days of study, research and rehearsal, according to second-grade teacher Amy McGee.

“This particular unit of inquiry focused on leaders, what makes a good leader, how they shaped their community and overcame conflicts: which also goes with our second-grade standards,” McGee explained. “And today, they are personifying those leaders through this wax museum, which we feel is a unique way to give a presentation.”

Along with Fountain staff and students, visitors to this charming exhibition included Pueblo School District 60 Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso, and parents and grandparents, of the youngsters taking on, at least for an hour, the persona of such luminaries as NFL star turned military hero Pat Tillman and — in a black construction paper stovetop hat and beard — “Honest” Abe Lincoln (Logan Michael Smith.)

“He picked the outfit himself, but had a little help making the hat,” said Mandy Smith of her son. “I was very impressed by his presentation. He did all the research and everything on his own and then came home and practiced it with me.

“We practiced every night for at least a week. He took it very, very seriously.”

As did Logan Michael’s fellow living historians.

“I saw Martin Luther King Jr., so I went over to tell him that we just celebrated his day,” Macaluso said. “And I extended my hand and asked, ‘Will you give me a handshake?’ And he said, ‘No. Excuse me, but this is a wax museum.’”

In addition to being graded on a rubric that includes research, and speech preparation, volume and appearance, the second graders were assessed by their fellow IB scholars, who studied each presentation with an impressive fervor equal to that of their colleagues.

“My favorite is Rosa Parks,” offered Sarah Bedoya-Correa. “She refused to give her seat on the bus and she was for equal rights.”

As was the gentle giant who led the United States through the most traumatic and divisive period in its history.

“One thing I am very proud of is signing a paper called the Emancipation Proclamation. It freed the slaves,” Logan Michael Smith announced. “My country was so much better because of me. I brought the North and South together and I thought that everyone should be treated equally.

“One of my most famous quotes is, ‘You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.’”

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