Mead Hall students spend ‘A Night at the Museum’

May 2, 2019

Eli Whitney brought his famous cotton gin, complete with bales of cotton for cleaning during demonstrations.

John Deere, who started as a blacksmith before he created the first successful steel plow and later the tractor, hammered on his anvil.

Susan B. Anthony advocated for women’s rights with protest signs and a strong voice in support of suffrage.

Fourth graders at Mead Hall Episcopal School portrayed these famous Americans and more than 20 others April 25 at the school’s annual “A Night at the Museum.” The other historical figures, ranging from entertainers to inventors to Civil Rights leaders, included Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, George Washington Carver, Steve Jobs and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

The museum project begins at the start of the school year, said Nina Briggs, who teaches fourth-grade English language arts, grammar and social studies. Students choose a figure who lived from 1815 to modern day who made a significant contribution to American culture and history.

Then, the students start researching their person and writing book reports about him or her.

“They embrace their person,” Briggs said. “They have to become that person.”

Parents help, too, with backdrops to create the perfect setting and props to tell the character’s story.

Before the public presentations for family and friends, each student writes and memorizes a detailed monologue based on research about his or her character. During the presentation when a museum goer pushes a button or rings a bell, students bring their characters to life, telling their stories.

“They try to bring their characters to life to make them realistic to the audience,” Briggs said. “They’re bringing that person back.”

“A Night at the Museum” is the elementary school’s biggest project of the school year, crossing and encompassing all subjects, Briggs said.

“It cross-curricular. Depending on who their person is, they could be doing research in science; math; history; and, of course, English,” she said. “It all intertwines, and the presentations bring in grammar and public speaking. It becomes a major part of their school year. It’s takes all facets of the different subjects and brings them together. That’s important.”