Somers Intermediate School Fifth Graders Bring History to Life

Alexander Susca as Milton Hershey and Andrew Violante as Magic Johnson Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Noah Volkman as Michael Jackson Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Molly Fink as Helen Keller Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Students take a break to grab a quick snack from Milton Hershey. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Jackson Forsberg as Neil Armstrong Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Giuseppe Gioffre as Emmitt Smith Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Thomas Hauser as Walt Disney Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Ruimin Zhang plays the cello as Yo-Yo Ma. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Ariana Horafios as Jacqueline Kennedy Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Luke Hopper as William Clark Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Visitors look for clues in Theodore Roosevelt's "autobiography," written by Theodore Mitchell (right). Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Enisa Berisha as Amelia Earhart and Grayden Carr as Shaquille O'Neal Credits: Gabrielle Bilik

SOMERS, N.Y. - In a dazzling three-dimensional display, replicas of historical figures and pop-culture icons created by the fifth-grade students lined the hallways of Somers Intermediate School at the annual Images of Greatness Wax Museum showcase on Thursday, May 18.

Crafted with Madame Tussaud’s-like accuracy, the costumes were convincing enough to make the hallway feel like it had been tapped by whatever magic made the exhibits come alive in “Night at the Museum,” when the figures abandoned their posts to socialize. The dressed-up students could only last a few moments before a twitchy nose or a fit of giggles shattered the illusion (some sooner than others).

From Helen Keller to the King of Pop, decades of history were represented. There was an “autobiography” posted next to each display that provided clues to their identity, and parents and visitors were given a match-up worksheet to fill out as they made their way down the hall. Students researched their historical figures using several different media before writing the descriptions and choosing their outfits, said Joe Benedetto, fifth grade teacher.

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Benedetto began the tradition nine years ago after he carried it over from his previous district, and the one before that.

“The kids love playing a character and it’s a great, authentic, cumulative piece,” Benedetto said.

Many of the exhibits were interactive. A cello performance from Yo-Yo Ma (Ruimin Zhang), for instance, provided ambiance for the occasion.

Milton Hershey (Alex Susca), who held a straw hat filled with Hershey’s Kisses, and Magic Johnson, (Andrew Violante), who held a basketball, broke character for just a moment to share what it was like preparing for the event. Both said they enjoyed coming up with their costumes and that they learned much from the research they put into their autobiographies. They added that the research and composition of the write-up was not the most daunting part of the project. The challenge?

“Figuring out how you’re going to stand like this for an hour,’” Susca said.

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