By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
History came alive recently at Schwartz Elementary School.
Fifth grade students, dressed in historical clothing, and shared tales from the American Revolution May 13 at the school’s annual living history museum.
Students were each assigned a different historical figure. They had to research and write a biography on that person, including major events in that person’s life. Students then used that information to craft a biography and a historical fiction story they would use for the living history museum.
“When they tell the stories they can put expression in it and really make it come alive,” said teacher Rhonda Watkins who started the project more than a decade ago.
They performed their stories for fellow students and parents.
The living history cast included American Revolution heroes such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, and Sam Adams as well as some lesser known heroines such as Sybil Ludington and Prudence Wright.
Student Jesse Blough portrayed Paul Revere, who was best known for his midnight ride to alert colonial militia that British forces were approaching. Jesse knew about the famous American Revolutionary War figured but learned more through the project.
“We used encyclopedias and the internet to research,” he said.
Samantha Campbell chose Molly Pitcher for her project. She remembers watching her older brother participate in the living history museum and was excited to experience it for herself.
“I read a book about Molly Pitcher before and really like her,” Samantha said.
The costumes and research materials were purchased through a grant from the Mid-Del Public Schools Foundation. Watkins continues to add new costumes every year.
Watkins started the living history museum as a fun learning experience for students. And it’s still a hit with students. This was her final year to lead as she plans to retire at the end of the year.
“A lot of the students have watched these when they’re younger so they really look forward to doing it,” Watkins said. “And the characters really stick with them later. Some of them come back here and remember their story and who everyone else in their class had.”
Students started their project in January. They spend more than two months researching their character, writing their story and practicing their presentation.