Auke Bay school turns into a 'wax museum'

Posted: Friday, February 18, 2011

Auke Bay Elementary turned into a wax museum on Thursday, with notable persons like George Washington, Michael Jordan, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein and many others lining the hallways.

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MICHAEL PENN / Juneau Empire
MICHAEL PENN / Juneau Empire

Students and teachers would walk up to one of the personalities, tap them and watch them come to life with stories about their past.

Auke Bay Elementary fifth-graders have been working on a reading, writing and research project since winter break.

“They got to pick somebody they were interested in that made a positive contribution to society,” said fifth-grade teacher JoAnn Jones.

Students had to pick a book about their person at their reading level, and then follow up with two other online sources. They then wrote their own script.

Garbed in wigs and beards, athletic gear, lab coats, frontier clothing and other styles, prominent figures of past and present stood ready to share.

A grey-haired Albert Einstein, portrayed by Fischer Rago, asked students visiting from other classrooms what year they were in. It is 1955 his time, and he is very old and sick.

He told of how he grew up and was educated, but more important were his scientific discoveries. He said he was the first scientist to use the formula E=MC2, and is remembered for his contributions to development of the atomic bomb.

“I’m very sick,” he said. “Nurse, can you bring me a pen and paper?”

Einstein also shared that his son, Hans, is very bright and following in his footsteps.

Molly “Pitcher” Ludwig Hays MacCauley, portrayed by Abby Meiners, donned a colonial dress and — true to form — carried a pitcher.

She explained how she came to marry her husband, and followed him to war. Battles in 1777 and 1778 were hot and Hays brought her pitcher to get water for the soldiers, who were collapsing from the heat.

“Soldiers were yelling, Molly! Molly, pitcher!” she said. “And that became my nickname.”

Hays said her husband collapsed on the battlefield and she took his place at the cannon, which is why George Washington gave her the honor of being a non-commissioned officer.

“I think it was amazing I was given the honor of sergeant,” Hays said.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov also made an appearance, portrayed by Sophia Puliafico. Anastasia told of her childhood, how she had a tendency to play pranks and was gifted. Her parents did not lavish much on the children, as she slept on a hard cot without a pillow and took cold baths.

She told of the war between Russia and Germany when she was a teenager, and the unforseen tragedy that would befall her family.

“After I turned 17, shortly after midnight, my family was awakened and told to hide in the cellar,” she said.

A Bolshevik firing squad entered and told them the Imperial family was to be executed.

Milton Hershey, portrayed by Jake Johnson, told of his many attempts at making a successful candy company, and offered a Hershey’s Kiss to those who listened intently.

Leonardo DaVinci (Annie Hagen), while painting the Mona Lisa, told of his artistic achievements, but also of how he grew bored of painting and drafted the first flying machine.

“I didn’t get to do all of the things I wanted to do,” he said. “As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.”

Tony Hawk (Henry Cheng) talked about his early rise to fame with skateboarding, the fallout of the popularity of the sport, and its rising surge. He spoke of the trick he landed — a 300 degree in-air turn — that inspired many to go pro.

Other notable figures who appeared in Auke Bay on Thursday included artists like Vincent Van Gogh; author Dr. Seuss; entertainment figures like Elvis, Walt Disney, John Lennon and Audrey Hepburn; explorers like Neil Armstrong, Christopher Columbus and Sacajawea; recent and long-past historical figures like Sitting Bull, Princess Diana, Helen Keller and Paul Revere; political figures like Rosa Parks, Harriett Tubman, George Washington, Barack Obama and Elizabeth Peratrovich; scientists, including Florence Nightingale, Thomas Edison and Marie Curie; and sports figures like Sasha Cohen, Mohammed Ali, Angela Ruggiero, and Peyton Manning.

There even were two students (from separate classes) who were inspired by a recent visit by James Madison (Sara Everett).

“It’s gone very well because the kids are excited, because it’s something of their choosing,” Jones said.

Students have seen their prior peers performing researched dignitaries, so they had an idea of what to do.

“They’re just so awesome,” Jones said. “It’s what they’re interested in. It makes it so real for them.”

She said the classes that get to visit the museum also look forward to experiencing it.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or sarah.day@juneauempire.com.



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