"Hi, I'm Jackie Robinson," said Patrick Stimatz, a Butte Central Elementary fifth-grader holding a small baseball bat and wearing a Dodgers cap. "I was born in 1919."
"Hi," said his classmate Jordan Jense, "I'm Neil Armstrong."
"Hello, my name is Frederick Douglass," said Sam Henderson, another fifth-grader, wearing a curly wig and a fake goatee.
Stimatz, Jense, and Henderson were joined by classmates playing Annie Oakley, Pocahontas, Ruby Bridges, and George Washington, among other historical personages, in the Butte Central Elementary and Middle School gym on Thursday morning.
While the kids did their best to stay in character, their teacher, Heidi Burgess, proudly roamed about, talking to parents and explaining what her students were up to.
She said the process started with some 100 laminated images of historical figures. Once her fifth-graders had each chosen one, they conducted research on that figure, wrote a biography of her or him, created a small figurine of the person, put together a poster board, developed a costume, and memorized a first-person speech highlighting the most important moments of their figure's life.
Then, on Thursday, they stood as stock-still as possible before their poster board and waited for visitors to press a paper button on the table behind them. When the button was pressed, the fifth-graders came to life as the historical figures.
According to Burgess, this lively wax museum offered her students a fun opportunity to get more deeply immersed in history than might otherwise be possible.
"This kind of adds that extra kick," Burgess said. "It allows them to become that person."