Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School welcomed historical figures on Feb. 24 for its inaugural Living Wax Museum. Students at every grade level were invited to study a famous person they were interested in and develop a short report based on their research.

To share what they learned, students portrayed the figure during the schoolwide events that blended history with performance. The primary grades had the morning slot, while the intermediate grades performed in the afternoon. Because it is the first year, with COVID-19 regulations in place, parents couldn’t attend, but Principal Kevin Jackson and staff will talk about the pros and cons and further develop the event for the future.

Jackson said he and staff at Jenifer search for ways to showcase the school’s diversity and encourage students to study more about themselves and others. “We are always looking for diverse opportunities that allow students to see themselves and have some pride in who they are,” Jackson said.

Students portrayed contemporary entertainers like H.E.R., Dwayne Johnson, and Zendaya, politicians such as Condoleezza Rice, Kamala Harris and Barack Obama, astronauts Frederick Douglas and Mae Jemison, and athletes like Venus and Serena Williams, and LeBron James. Third-grader Ayjae Williams had to change his project at the last minute. “I was supposed to be Barack Obama, but I forgot my suit at home,” he said. The show must go on and that’s when fifth-grade teacher Pam Hillary had an idea. She would hold a book for him while he read a poem by Maya Angelou. Students from each grade milled the hallways and “started” the performance by tapping on a puck light at the foot of each performer.

“It’s amazing,” Kate Shanbarger, librarian, said. “The children had to take charge of their own learning and it makes a difference.” The students learned some new facts and appreciated the effort put into the program by their peers. “I love this,” second-grader Ryleigh Posadas said to Shanbarger as she walked from performer to performer.

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