Dressed in costumes that ranged from football players and doctors to military veterans and playwrights, the North Garner Middle eighth-grade language art students became wax-like figures in a museum for a day.
After a winter storm closed school and canceled the event last week, the more than 330 eighth graders, were just happy to be there, representing iconic figures in history who took risks.
“It’s based on a theme that we have for our unit called ‘taking risks,’” Amy Griggs, a 17-year teacher explained. “So each students gets to choose a famous risk taker to research and report on.”
This is the third year for the project. Each year the students write a research paper and and create a display and costume with props of their subject.
And they learn a lot, she said, for instance how to research, and correctly cite sources.
“We’re trying to help get them ready for high school.”
As Mayor Ronnie Williams surveyed the many projects, the eighth graders froze, as if figures in wax. The figures ranged from Malcolm X to Peyton Manning, Ice Cube and even some of the most unknown of risk takers.
Griggs said she’s seen some interesting presentations over the years. But what’s garnered her attention most was her students’ willingness and joy to represent iconic figures of the opposite race or gender.
“It’s such a great joy to experience it,” she said. “I was in schools, when schools were integrated and I just see how children communicate with one another and treat one another with respect, and I’m not saying there are never any problems here, but this is just one event that shows how far we have come.”
Antonia Mitchell, an eighth-grade student chose to portray Joan of Arc, a heroine of France, who fought for her country during the in the early 1400s in the Hundred Years’ War.
Mitchell, dressed in a shield, held a sword with two hands and got down on her knees and bowed her head as the Mayor and others stopped to look at her project.
“I really like researching French history and Joan of Arc was interesting to me,” Mitchell said. “It was the fact that she was a woman in the 1400s in the military and she was in her teens. Nowadays you see women in the military but they are not in their teens.”
Cameron McClain and Jaylen Andrews chose a more conventional figure. They both chose Muhammed Ali, unbeknownst to the other.
“He was one of the greatest,” McClain said. “He was going to go to war but he didn’t and was convicted of draft evasion and he was suspended. But he never gave up.”
Andrews added, “He stood up for what he believed in. I chose him knowing that and he was in the civil rights era and that was a big deal.”