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SHEPHERDSVILLE - When Christian Hutchison grows up, he plans on being a marine biologist in Virginia. After he retires from that, he’s going to work for NASA.
That’s why he chose Neil Armstrong.
“He’s an interesting character,” Hutchison said “And I love studying about space. Maybe I will go to space at some point.” He was dressed in a white space suit, complete with helmet, with a rocket at his side.
Shepherdsville Elementary held their fifth annual “Living History Museum” on May 12. Hutchison, along with his fifth-grade classmates, dressed up as a history character of choice and recited a monologue when a button was pressed by the “museum” visitors.
Joe Hutchison, Christian’s father, was there, camera in hand, to watch him inform everyone about Neil Armstrong.
“We got the costume together pretty quick,” he said. “But he’s wanted to be an astronaut for years. He spends his time researching things online to learn more about it.”
The projects were a semester-long endeavor completed by the fifth-grade class. Rick Lumpkins and Michele Grey, two of the fifth-grade teachers, work together to put the event on every year.
“It beings as soon as the students get back from winter break,” Grey said. The students write a poem, a feature article, a monologue, and make a biography poster and character book.
“They live and breathe these characters for months,” she added.
Grey focuses more on the English aspects of the project, like teaching the students how to write in different styles for the separate assignments.
“I work on the social studies,” Lumpkins said. “I give the background of all the characters and the eras in which they lived.” The students can choose Native Americans, or people from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, or the Civil Rights movement.
“There’s a limit of four of the same person,” Lumpkins added. “But there has been a wider variety this year.”
Another change this year was the amount of props used. A large boat, cannon, plane, rocket, and teepee served as the background for several of the “wax” character exhibits.
Besides props, the museum was crowded with parents, family members, and curious students from lower grades.
Pam Roution, whose son Josh was dressed as Robert E. Lee, enjoyed the event, even though the preparation was tough.
“It was time consuming,” she said. “I had to help him research some of the reports and rent the costume, but he ended up loving his character. Robert E. Lee is his hero now, he loves him!”
Josh said he thought the costume was hot after standing in it for an hour, but he liked how he looked and had fun acting as the Confederate general.
“It made history more interesting,” he said. “And I like that he helped his country, never went against it, even though he had the chance.”
Most of the students had every word of their monologues memorized and never broke from their character, but a few snuck a smile or a peek at their script, just to make sure they were doing okay.
“This is an age where they aren’t into all the drama yet, but they can still get embarrassed,” Lumpkins said. He added that being conscious of that fine line of embarrassment was important for the monologues.
Principal David Pate made his rounds, listening intently to the speeches.
“Knowing these kids personally, it really is phenomenal to see what it brings out of them,” he said.
Many students picked their characters because they were “cool explorers,” they “freed the slaves,” or “helped women,” and seemed to light up when discussing their choice, excited to understand more about history than they did several months ago.
But some of them, like Christian Hutchison, were inspired for a lifetime.