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March 22, 2011 > Sunol Glen students make history come alive

Sunol Glen students make history come alive

By Alyson Whitaker

Second and third graders of Sunol Glen School culminated a month long biography unit by performing in their very own "Wax Museum" on March 10.

The theme for the evening was "Americans who made a difference." Each student selected an individual from American history who they felt made a significant contribution to American society. Individuals represented spanned time from Pocahontas through current extreme motocross superstar Travis Pestrana, and dozens in between.

While some students chose well-known historical icons, others selected less-familiar individuals connected by a personal experience or relationship. Josh Replogle, a third grader, chose his grandfather, Marty Knutson, a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force as his biographical figure. Marty also flew for the CIA and spent the latter years of his career with NASA. Josh has heard "Grandpapa" tell stories of his experiences and adventures so when it came time to choose an "American who made a difference," there was no question who Josh wanted to represent! It was a special evening for both Josh, and Marty-now retired and in his early 80's.

As part of the process, students wrote a persuasive letter to their teacher about the person they wanted to research. They then learned about the individual and wrote a summary paragraph of their life and influence on America. Details included birthdate and location, how the individual made a difference in America, five words describing the person and an interesting fact about them. Each student memorized their paragraph, created a representative costume and prepared to recite it to all who wanted to hear. At the evening event, each student held a stick with a red dot "button" and performed each time their "dot" was pressed.

Teachers Heather Henderson, Melody Mayer, and Kristin Brabec were extremely pleased with their students' performances and praised them for their hard work and determination. Multi-faceted learning helps students build valuable skills that will serve them throughout their lives. In addition to research practices and reading and writing competencies, students gained valuable public speaking skills as they shared their speeches with dozens of unfamiliar faces.

Principal/Superintendent Molly Barnes loves the creativity of the teachers for coming up with unique and fun methods to teach. "Having our 2nd and 3rd graders become 'wax' figures and share the impact of important historical people is truly remarkable! I am extremely proud of all of our students."

The event was well attended by parents and community members, and everyone was impressed with the level of knowledge the wax figures were able to impart. Regardless of their choices, there was little doubt that history really did come alive for these young students!

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