North Garner students create wax museum in gym

kjahner@newsobserver.comMarch 9, 2014 

— On a recent Friday afternoon, language arts students turned the North Garner Middle School gym into a wax museum. And they did it without wax.

Students created a living museum as they depicted a vast range of characters with costumes and props in front of posters providing details of their lives.

The theme was risk-takers, and students representing figures such as Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson and Pancho Villa posed frozen – mostly – in front of their work as other students and parents walked by.

“I’m so proud of them. They worked so hard on this,” eighth-grade language arts teacher Jessica Darnell said.

Students had to write an argumentative research paper and produce an informative display to accompany their costume.

The temporary museum featured track star Jackie Joyner Kersee standing next to 19th century abolitionist and Underground Railroad worker Harriet Tubman. Scattered about, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and Saul Hudson – better known as Slash – posed with their guitars. Physicist Marie Curie stared at a test tube in her hand not far from where primatologist Jane Goodall held a stuffed chimpanzee. Ernie Davis, the first black Heisman Trophy winner, stood in full football pads.

Some of the choices represented history’s big names , like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Michael Jordan. Others went more obscure. There were at least two Amelia Earharts, but Rachel Ellsworth went to Katherine Sui Pa Chung for her pioneering female pilot.

“She’s considered the Chinese Amelia Earhart,” Rachel said of the first licensed Asian-American pilot, who became friends with Earhart. “I wanted to do someone from my heritage.” (Rachel was born in China.)

Rachel didn‘t know much about Chung to start, but she came to admire her ability to break down both cultural and gender barriers.

“She was always free-spirited. She wasn’t afraid to do something she knew she probably couldn’t,” Rachel said. “She liked to try different things.”

Michael Holloway had always heard about Malcolm X but wanted to learn more about his battles against segregation. Rather than a fairy-tale icon, he found an imperfect man who made a big impact.

“He made a lot of mistakes in his life. I always hear a lot of about how people do things, so I try to read what other people do and learn from their mistakes,” Michael said.

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