Students make history live at HES ?museum?

Patrick Henry (foreground), portrayed by Olivia Slater, and Benedict Arnold, portrayed by Emerson Funk, talk about their historical lives during the Hillsboro Elementary School Live Museum involving both fifth-grade classes. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

You never know whom you might meet when you visit Hillsboro Elemen?tary School.

Last Wednesday afternoon, for instance, it could have been George Washing?ton, Betsy Ross or even the notorious Benedict Arnold.

These and many more heroes and anti-heroes of early American history were sharing their stories with any and all who would listen as part of a Live Museum project for HES fifth-graders.

?I call it a fifth-grade, end-of-the-year performance assessment,? said Doug Dick, who helped develop the event with fellow fifth-grade teacher Maura Wiebe. ?It?s what we end up with after studying early America?from the explorers through the Constitution. It?s history prior to the 1800s.?

While the Living Museum was not a new venture at HES, it had been absent for several years.

?Years back, when I was teaching fifth-grade social studies, we did this,? said Dick, who taught physical education at HES the past five years before returning to the fifth-grade classroom last fall.

?I like to have something that kids are geared up for and look forward to at the end of the year, and make the end of the year significant, especially for the fifth-graders going out.?

Students selected their character through a lottery-like process.

?There could be duplicate characters from each class,? Dick said, ?but each class drew a number, and whoever was lucky enough to get one or two, they got the first picks.?

Dick said he didn?t think any students were disappointed with the character they chose.

?There were a lot of people from that time period that were interesting,? Dick said. ?I tried to highlight some of the more important ones, and some we don?t hear so much about?like Alexander Hamilton, who?s on the $10 bill.?

Gender consistency was not a requirement for character choices. Dick said several girls chose male charac??ters and at least one boy picked a woman to portray.

Once a character was chosen, students were asked to develop a presentation according to a rubric provided by the teachers. Their areas of interest included speech organization, speech content, visuals, speech delivery and body language.

Several teachers volunteered to hear and evaluate the presentations.

Costumes were encouraged as part of the ?visuals,? but not required.

?They didn?t have to come up with a prop, but some of them did,? Dick said. ?Molly Pitcher had a pitcher of water, for example.?

At events like these, learning isn?t limited to the students.

?I still learn things,? Dick said. ?Like Molly Pitcher?her real name was Ludwig Hayes. Molly Pitcher was her nickname. But what her job was with the pitchers was to pour water over the canon barrels to keep the canons cool. I always thought it was to give guys drinks of water. Then, when her husband was wounded, she took over the firing of the canon.

?It?s a fun history to study,? Dick said. ?Years back, when I was teaching fifth-grade social studies, we did this. I just felt like it?s a good way to end the year. I felt overall the kids did a really good job.?

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