Actors, singers, athletes and other icons of pop culture lined the stage in the Jefferson Middle School auditorium as the school's Team Challenge transformed for the day from everyday sixth-graders into the nation's biggest celebrities.
More than 500 students, teachers, family and community members passed through the auditorium to see the display, which consisted of students taking on wax personas of famous people they spent the last several weeks researching.
''It's a fun way of infusing a research project in the classroom,'' said Gina Hess, a teacher on the team. ''Students usually research for about four weeks on a particular character.''
Above, Jamon Ryan poses as Michael Jackson, ‘‘The King of Pop,’’ during Jefferson Middle School’s wax museum Friday. Below, Jordan Walters poses as Hulk Hogan. For more photos, visit cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Dave Emke
By the time the research period is up, students have submitted written reports and have learned a lot about their character's career and personal life, giving them a good gauge on who they would be portraying on stage.
''I didn't know anything about her - I'd never heard of her before,'' student Lillian Scholeno said of doing the research project and portraying race car driver Danica Patrick. ''Now I think she's kind of cool.''
The wax museum is a fun activity at the end of the research project, but students said they found the task of standing perfectly still while people walked by and inspected them to be somewhat challenging.
''It's kind of hard to keep my arm up,'' said Jordan Walters, who portrayed Hulk Hogan in the museum and spent the day flexing his muscle. ''And people sometimes make me laugh with their comments as they walk by.''
Mrs. Hess said students practiced remaining still and stone-faced in the classroom in the days leading up to the museum.
''We basically worked them up to the 15 minutes,'' Mrs. Hess said. ''We had them stand still in increments of three and then five and then eight minutes, working them up so they could get a feel of what it will be like for the whole 15.''
The teachers made a list of people that they could provide a large amount of research material on and then assigned characters to each student. Assignments are based on people students might be most interested in, Mrs. Hess said, as well as a particular quality that is integral to the wax museum process.
''Some goes into how they look so we can replicate them in the museum as well as possible,'' she said.
Past themes of the wax museum have included world history, rock and roll history, the Holocaust, the Renaissance, presidents and first ladies, and many other subjects. Mrs. Hess said the team tries to alternate between serious and fun subjects as years go by.
''Last year we did scientists and inventors, so this year we wanted to do a more light-hearted one,'' she said. ''We figured that there is so much interest in pop culture, and then when Michael Jackson passed away - the king of pop culture - we decided it might be a good theme to do this year.''
Students said they enjoyed their opportunity to strike a pose as a celebrity this year. They had many opportunities to do so during the day, with eight different 15-minute showings scheduled. Alexis Robertson and Erin Butman worked together during breaks to coordinate the poses they would make as twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson.
''We do it different every time,'' Alexis said. ''We stand and sit, but we try to do the same thing.''
And while students learned about researching, citing sources and compiling information about a topic, some said what they learned about being statues may be just as valuable in their development.
''This experience has been good for me,'' said Katlyn Caldwell, who portrayed singer Kelly Clarkson. ''I think it's been a good tutor on how I can stay still and not be hyper so much.''