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‘Waxing’ Black History Month at North Elementary School

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Fifth graders get into character

By Reece Murphy

North Elementary School fifth-graders had a unique way of teaching the school’s younger students about black history Tuesday, Feb. 25, with an event they called the Black History Wax Museum.

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During the event, each of the school’s 110-plus fifth-graders dressed up as historical African American figures they’d chosen at random and researched.

The characters ranged from the extremely famous, such as  Janyle Pittman’s portrayal of Michael Jordan, to lesser-known greats such as Nevaeh Holley’s Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, “The Mother of the Blues.”

Then, still in character, the students took to the halls to teach underclassmen about their figures.

“Well, first we put these stickers on,” Janyle said pointing to a circular paper reinforcement ring stuck to his chest. “Then, when they push it, we tell them the speech we wrote about our character.”

Organizer and NES fifth-grade teacher Erica Cureton said this is the fifth year the school has hosted the event, which she said has become extremely popular – a fact illustrated by the throngs of kindergartners moving from character to character “pressing buttons.”

North Elementary Principal School Keishea Mickles said the event is a combination of academic exercises that encompasses history, research, writing, presentations and fun.

“It’s a great way to pay homage to African Americans who made a contribution to our daily lives and for these kids a way for them to learn,” Mickles said.

So, does it work for the students doing the research? Rico Truesdale, who dressed up as Methodist Episcopal minister the Rev. Hiram Revels, said the exercise spurred an interest he didn’t even know he had.

“He was the first African American senator,” Rico said. “He was from Fayetteville, North Carolina, and he lived from 1827 to 1901.

“At first, I didn’t pay any attention to senators, but that got me interested,” he said. “So I went back and did some more research. I think I’d like it.”

 

Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151