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History's greatest come to life at St. Louis Covenant School

Third graders' interactive wax museum lets students learn about, pose as, historic figures

PINECREST | Imagine a place where you could interact with some of history’s greatest figures, all at the push of a button.

At St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest, it was not the click of an internet, TV, or smart device that made it possible. Instead, it was the imagination and creativity of students who participated in the school’s annual Third Grade Wax Museum that brought history to life.

Giuliana Aja portrays Annie Oakley, the American sharp shooter and star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at the Third Grade Wax Museum at St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest, April 29, 2022.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

Giuliana Aja portrays Annie Oakley, the American sharp shooter and star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at the Third Grade Wax Museum at St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest, April 29, 2022.

One last game before you jet off: Astronaut Neil Armstrong, portrayed by Raul Planas, and game pioneer Milton Bradley, portrayed by Elias Planas, pose for a photo at the Third Grade Wax Museum at St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest, April 29, 2022, in the school's gym-auditorium.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

One last game before you jet off: Astronaut Neil Armstrong, portrayed by Raul Planas, and game pioneer Milton Bradley, portrayed by Elias Planas, pose for a photo at the Third Grade Wax Museum at St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest, April 29, 2022, in the school's gym-auditorium.

For 14 years, third graders have taken on the roles of renowned artists, athletes, explorers, monarchs, musicians, peacemakers, scientists, storytellers, warriors and more. With the help of teachers Tracy Ley and Ana Maria Tome, and teacher’s aide Scarlett Woods, 46 students matched up with the historical character of their choice.

“We talked about the unique gifts that God has given to each of the students. And so, they took their gifts, and that kind of led them down the path of searching which character they relate to,” said Ley, who has organized the Wax Museum for 13 years.

Students used the biographical, kid friendly “Who Is?” and “Who Was?” book series published by Penguin and Random House — whose trademark covers often portray a caricatured, big-headed individual — to learn about the lives and accomplishments of historic figures. They took notes, took quizzes, created digital flyers, and more.

But as Giuliana Aja, who learned about Annie Oakley, pointed out, “The best part about the project is dressing up.” Giuliana dressed as the American sharpshooter and star of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, with her signature pleated dress, fringe, boots, and cowgirl Stetson.

Wardrobe for participants of the April 29, 2022, Third Grade Wax Museum ranged from Neil Armstrong’s astronaut suit and singer Selena Quintanilla’s purple jumpsuit to iconic headwear, like Princess Diana’s tiara and Babe Ruth’s baseball cap. Even hair was a factor because not too many people would recognize Albert Einstein without the wildness of his, or Elvis Presley without his stylish pompadour. And props helped bring key career moments to life, like J.K. Rowling with a copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Steve Irwin carrying a (plush) crocodile, and Bruce Lee with nunchucks.

St. Louis Covenant School’s gym-auditorium served as the Wax Museum exhibit space filled with individual booths for each historic great. Sitting side by side in the gallery were scientist and thinker Sir Isaac Newton and creative storyteller and puppeteer Jim Henson, with Kermit the Frog in hand. On another end was England’s Queen Victoria in royal regalia, along with American country singer Dolly Parton, and primatologist Jane Goodall. Even a President Teddy Roosevelt stepped out of his display to visit Jesus Christ.

“It’s evolved through the years. They didn’t have all this,” said Diana Sepulveda, a science teacher and parent at St. Louis.

All four of Sepulveda’s children have participated in the Third Grade Wax Museum, and she has seen the evolution go from posters presented in the school’s media center to today’s digital flyers accessed via QR Code. Her eldest daughters, Gabriela and Alex, still remember dressing up as pioneer nurseryman Johnny Appleseed and sharpshooter Annie Oakley; their brother, Jose, dressed as King Tut. This time they came to support their youngest sibling, Daniel, who dressed up as musician and songwriter Bob Marley.

The Third Grade Wax Museum took an in-person hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic; for two years, students turned to Zoom and video recordings to digitally present their historic figures. But nothing tops being back in person in 2022, seeing and hearing from history’s greatest face-to-face.

An encouraging Theodore Roosevelt, portrayed by Alejandro Torrez, reminds visitors to “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Guests visiting the Third Grade Wax Museum at St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest were able to interact with different historical figures, including Roosevelt, on April 29, 2022, in the school's gym-auditorium.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

An encouraging Theodore Roosevelt, portrayed by Alejandro Torrez, reminds visitors to “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Guests visiting the Third Grade Wax Museum at St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest were able to interact with different historical figures, including Roosevelt, on April 29, 2022, in the school's gym-auditorium.