CHISD Students Create A Living Wax Museum
At Bray Elementary, students are learning about history by bringing it to life.
Well, lifelike, at least.
Recently, in honor of Black History Month, the students in fourth and fifth grades continued a tradition of creating a living wax museum. Each student drew the name of one influential artist, architect, musician, composer, singer, poet, theatrical performer, or dancer to research and ultimately portray in the living wax museum.
Each student, many in costume, used their research to write and memorize a short speech written from first person perspective to recite as visitors toured the museum. They also created a poster or tri-fold backdrop with photographs, a journal entry written from the perspective of their influential person, and a timeline of important events in their lives.
“One thing that made this year’s museum special was the focus around researching and teaching others about influential African Americans in the different areas of fine arts,” said Lyndsie Davis, an instructor and parent/community liaison.
Focus On Implementing Fine Arts
Bray Elementary is a fine arts campus. Davis said under the leadership of their principal, Dr. Amanda McCarther, and assistant principal, Mary Robinson, there is a newfound focus and vision regarding implementing fine arts and the study of the arts in everything at Bray.
“Deciding to have our scholars research and study the visionaries who paved the way for them in fine arts was a no-brainer this year, and something that we will plan to continue as we carry the tradition on,” Davis said.
“We have so many creative minds who collaborate on projects here at Bray. As the parent and community liaison, it is often my responsibility to coordinate the logistics of projects or events, but it is truly a group effort in everything we do. Everyone has skills, talents, and ideas and we try to maximize those things in each event, activity, or project we create.”
The museum took place in the gym and throughout the hallways of the school’s main building. The students were responsible for creating their poster backdrops, putting together their costumes, and bringing props if they chose.
“Aside from the academic advantages of learning how to conduct research and complete research projects, this was a great opportunity for our scholars to learn more about people they may not have heard of before, or who may not traditionally be talked about or discussed during black history month in school,” Davis said. “It is always a wonderful thing when scholars see a reflection of themselves when it comes to things they are passionate about, especially in the arts.
“Young men had the opportunity to learn about strong and creative male dancers, like Alvin Ailey, who made a huge impact in the world of dance. Young ladies had the opportunity to explore how intelligent and creative women, like Norma Merrick Sklarek, were pioneers in the world of architecture.”
Discovering New People
Alysah McGrew, a fifth-grader and student council president, said, “I learned about new people that I didn’t even know existed, and the essence of black history in fine arts.”
Erin Savage, fourth-grader and student council vice president, added, “It was a good experience because I got to learn about black history, what they do for a living, and how they were important to the world. There were a lot of new people I hadn’t learned about before.”
Davis said the experience was an inspirational and learning opportunity for herself and other instructors and administrators as well.
Igniting Sparks & A Passion Through Fine Arts
“Seeing the end result of our scholars’ hard work is always a good experience, but what made this project especially inspiring was how open our scholars were to truly learning about their key figure and how committed they were to the process,” she said. “When the day came for them to practice their parts for the younger scholars, I actually walked around holding back tears because I knew that sparks had been ignited in many of our scholars and not only were they proud to show off their work, they were proud to be the person they were representing that day.”
While the museum was only for an evening, Davis said photos and videos can be viewed on Twitter at @BrayElementary and on the campus website.
“We are incredibly proud of our scholars here at Bray, and we are always grateful for the opportunity to show the world how bright they shine,” Davis said.