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Jacque Cousteau, innovator of modern underwater diving.

Icons come alive at the annual 2nd grade Wax Museum at Parish Episcopal School’s Hillcrest campus. A tradition among 2nd grade students, the Wax Museum is a living display of icons, legends and inspiring people throughout history. Watch the full video.

While the event is a joy for Parish’s Lower School students, parents and faculty to witness, the 2nd graders involved walk away with a greater perspective on life. According to 2nd grade teacher Stephanie Taylor, after studying the Biography genre during Literature time, the students choose a character that they are interested in reading and teaching others about. “This aligns with our ParishProfile, the standard by which we feel students are prepared.” said Taylor. “In this one example, it allows our young students to create a personalized project and then communicate in a speech to varied audiences such as younger students and adults, establishing the basis for subsequent projects they’ll be accomplishing throughout their years at Parish.”

Becky Maher, Parish’s Lower School Librarian at the Hillcrest campus, gets the “back stage” pass to all of this as the students prepare. “The Wax Museum prompts an enormous flood of readers to the biography section of the library,” said Maher.  “It triggers an excitement for learning about people that continues for the rest of the year.”

Choosing the biography for their “Famous Person,” students read about and research the person to get a better understanding about their life, their role in history and what they did to change the world around them. Once their research is complete, students create their scripts and choose their costumes based on what they learned about the famous person. They then prepare for the living Wax Museum display where they stand as wax statues waiting for their patrons to “press here” to learn about the famous people from the new experts personifying them.

From inventors and philosophical leaders to royalty and innovators, the personas chosen by students changed history, formed pop culture and even shifted modern day thinking. The students’ reasons for choosing who they research varies as much as the persons chosen.

The students take?

Sean C. said “I wanted to be Neil Armstrong because I am interested in space.”

McKenna K. chose Coco Chanel because she too likes to sew, design and draw.

Liam M. wanted to be Martin Luther King, Jr. because “he stood up against the laws…”

Larkin D. wanted to be Georgia O’Keefe because “…I like to draw and paint.”

Adam K. said ”I wanted to be Harry Houdini because  I was interested in how he could escape from all that stuff like chains and his head in a bucket.”

Maher recognizes that the students learn amazing facts about the person who they choose to portray, but the most fun part of the exhibit for her “is to see the unique ways that they communicate their discoveries to the museum visitors.” Taylor agrees with that sentiment stating that the creativity put into project [by the students] carries all the way through right down to  the authentic dress and props that the students produce.  

Not only does each student learn about their important person but, acting as both exhibit and spectators (they do get a break to visit the other characters) they learn many new facts from their peers about other people who have made a difference.

 A favorite project among parents and students, the Parish 2nd grade Wax Museum allows the children to think big and beyond the four walls they sit inside each day and discover the world around them with new perspective. It teaches them that they too can be leaders, mind changers, game changers and serve their fellow men and women, through what some may view as “unfathomable” expectations.

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