BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. — Hundreds of visitors were educated by authors, inventors, scientists, designers, entertainers, athletes and historical, religious, political and military figures for the fifth-annual Burgettstown Elementary Center Wax Museum, May 26.
Fourth-graders in each of the school’s four social studies classes transformed themselves into famous figures over the course of two months of work and study, according to organizer Lucas Rendulic, who portrayed Shel Silverstein.
The children started with a five-paragraph essay on their historical figure and participated in several exercises across the curriculum to create their displays and costumes. Each child distilled their historical figure’s biography into a 30-second sound bite, which they recited when visitors dropped a token into their cup.
“They are super excited to share all they’ve learned,” Rendulic said. “It’s our big, end-of-the-year thing, something fun and creative. The best part is they are responsible for their learning, and they are teaching us things about their characters.”
In addition to their research, essay, costuming, biography and display, the children also prepared slide shows and Chatterpix audiovisual displays as part of promoting technology literacy. The exercise is cross-educational and involves teachers in other disciplines, including art and music.
Rendulic noted the rest of the school participates in the event as well, with the fifth-graders being encouraged to reflect on the differences and similarities between their presentations and the current displays and the younger children doing a writing exercise on what they learned.
Rendulic was inspired by his own childhood and his enthusiasm for living history and living historians.
“When I was growing up, I loved history, and when other kids were going to the beach with their families, I was going to Civil War battlefields. I wanted to share my passion for history with my students, and what better way to learn about history than to be part of history?” he said, adding the teachers and administration embraced and supported the idea.
The community also has embraced the event, with hundreds of visitors stopping by the elementary school to view the children’s costumes and displays – with the crowd increasing each year and many familiar faces making an annual visit.