Education feature: Texico students impersonate historical figures in living museum

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castil Texico fifth grader David Martinez impersonated Albert Einstein during Texico Elementary School fifth grade living museum. Teacher Melissa Hartley said the living museum was a culminating activity after a year of studying American history.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

“I am Albert Einstein. I am the most important scientist in American history.”

The speaker looked, acted and sounded like Einstein.

Texico fifth grader David Martinez was under the tousled hair and smudged glasses. He was one of 40 fifth-graders who spent the majority of Wednesday impersonating notable figures from American history in a living museum.

Characters included Neil Armstrong, Patsy Cline, Annie Oakley, Elvis Presley and the Statue of Liberty.

The fifth grade classes of Kelly Fontanilla and Melissa Hartley studied American history throughout the year and Hartley said the living museum was the culminating activity.

“We thought of a way to bring history to all the grades,” Hartley said.

All Texico students attended the museum, which was a first for the school.

The living museum was set up in the school’s old gym with all the lights out. At each of the 40 stations, attendees pushed on a light and the character came a life.

Each fifth grader wrote a one-minute speech about their character.

Martinez said he told people about where Einstein was born, lived, what he invented and why he was important to America.

“I like acting everything out,” Martinez said, explaining that the looked up information about Einstein on the Internet.

Martinez’ impression of Einstein included a German accent.

Jasmine Gannon, 10, was the Statue of Liberty. She said she chose the statue because she thought it would be cool to be painted but said she also enjoyed the statue’s story.

“She started of as a head,” Gannon said. “She’s been here and she’s a monument. She commemorates the alliance between the U.S. and France.”

Any of Gannon’s skin that was showing from under her green robe was painted the same green color.

“My mom painted me this morning,” she said. “We’ve had to touch up a few times though.”

Hartley said the students chose their characters three weeks ago and practiced their speeches in front of the class Monday and Tuesday.

Karen McDaniel of Texico came out to see the museum her daughter had been talking about.

“This is great. Now the little kids can actually put a face with the person when they’re learning about them,” McDaniel said.