Kuemper Catholic fifth-grade student Clare Janson plays Eleanor Roosevelt during Kuemper Catholic’s Wax Museum event on May 4.
Kuemper Catholic fifth-grade student Clare Janson plays Eleanor Roosevelt during Kuemper Catholic’s Wax Museum event on May 4.

May 15, 2018

Famous and influential people such as the French novelist Jules Verne, the American writer Edgar Allan Poe, the American hunter “Buffalo Bill,” the American abolitionist Harriet Tubman and many more gathered inside the Kuemper Catholic High School gym May 4.

With a push of a button, they came to life, explaining who they were, their accomplishments and what they stood for.

For the past month, Kuemper Catholic fifth-grade students had been preparing for this day.

The students selected, researched and learned all about their characters for the afternoon’s Kuemper Catholic Wax Museum event.

This was Kuemper’s sixth Wax Museum and the most popular year yet, said Mary Ann Brincks, a fifth-grade teacher at Kuemper’s St. Angela Academy.

Brincks and fifth-grade teacher Marilyn Barta worked with Susan Glass from the Carroll Community Theatre to find costumes for the students.

To begin the project, students pored through biographies of significant people in history and decided which ones they wanted to research. For class, they took an accelerated reading test, wrote a detailed book report on their historical figure, put together a costume that their character would wear and made a “button” that someone could push to awaken their character during the wax museum.

Kuemper students said the day helped push them out of their comfort zone and taught them more about individuals in history that previously had not been very familiar to them.

“The Wax Museum was really fun and also helpful for me, because talking in front of a lot of people isn’t something I would normally want to do,” said student Hailee Behrens, who played actress Lucille Ball. “I liked researching my character and dressing up like her. I felt like I really knew her. I wish I could do it again.”

After their buttons were pushed, the characters came to life and gave a 30-to-45-second speech to the public or fellow students.

“Its purpose is to have students learn about people in history — not only famous (and) well-known people, but the lesser known but no less important people in the history of our country and the world, and even the ancient world,” Brincks said. “For example, this year we had King Tut and Genghis Khan.”

Brincks said that 89 fifth-graders participated this year, and fourth-graders dropped by to learn more about the project and see what they will be doing next year.

We will continue this project in the future, because it meets so many of the Iowa Core standards in reading and language arts ,and it’s fun for the kids and us,” Brincks said. “The kids are always tired at the end of Wax Museum Day but loved every minute of it.”