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Living history

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By Stephen Thomas

            SHEPHERDSVILLE - Each year history comes to life at Shepherdsville Elementary in the form of the annual Living History Museum.

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            The fifth grade students participate in the event, each portraying a historical figure with costumes, props and a monologue telling historical biological information.

            According to Shepherdsville fifth grade instructor Rick Lumpkins, the seventh annual event was created to literally get students into their characters. Seventy-six students were in the spirit at this year's event.

            Lumpkins and the other fifth grade teachers also participate. He has appeared as Albert Einstein and Neil Armstrong over the years. The other fifth grade teachers, Michele Grey and Donna Taylor-Tabor, donned the costumes of Abigail Adams and Pocahontas, respectively.

            Like a real museum, patrons are asked to keep conversations at a minimum. Parents and younger Shepherdsville students bring the characters to life by stepping on a red button located on the floor in front of each.

            This year's cast featured four George Washington and Ben Franklin characters as the most popular selections.

            "I thought he was a good idea," said Franklin impersonator Austin Fleitz. "He invented a lot of things. I learned he died of a bad illness, and that he was not electrocuted by lightning but that the key (on the kite) got struck."

            Justin Terry portrayed the lone Theodore Roosevelt, telling in his monologue of being the 26th president, along with his experience with the Rough Riders.

            "I learned that his mom and his wife died on the same day in the same house," Terry later added.

            This year's most popular category was "Women who made a difference." Among them was Helen Keller, portrayed by students Katie Dehart and LynnLee Taylor.

            "I thought she would be a neat character," said Taylor. "She was blind and deaf and couldn't talk."

            Among Keller's achievements, Taylor noted learning that Keller wore sunglasses to cover her eyes after contracting scarlet fever.

            There were many Revolutionary War patriots and heroes in the museum, including three portrayals of Deborah Sampson, a woman who posed as a man to serve in the Continental Army.

            "I didn't want to have to wear a dress, and I wanted to be a soldier, so I thought it was cool," said Sampson impersonator Melissa Stout.

            Other characters included Native Americans, First Ladies, famous explorers, Civil War heroes, civil rights leaders, authors and painters.

            As a classroom lesson plan, each student are required to research their character and write the monologue. They also create a PowerPoint presentation, along with their character's costume.

            Lumpkins said the event was a one-of-a-kind event in the Bullitt County Public School district, an institution he was proud to continue with assistance and support from the Shepherdsville fifth grade team and the rest of the school.