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Snapshot in time: Students at Iron River Elementary School bring historic figures to life

Sacagawea stared off into the distance as she grasped her little son, Jean Baptiste. The explorer was flanked by famous Bills from the 21st century. Former president Clinton and the multi-billionaire Gates both struck a nonchalant pose for admirers.

Sacagawea stared off into the distance as she grasped her little son, Jean Baptiste.

The explorer was flanked by famous Bills from the 21st century. Former president Clinton and the multi-billionaire Gates both struck a nonchalant pose for admirers.

At Iron River Elementary School's wax museum Thursday, historically important people in America were portrayed by the third grade class.

The students studied, then dressed up as famous figures. The 19 students struck a pose and attempted to stay perfectly still as proud parents and other loved ones snuck up to snap photos and admire the costumes.

Iron River third graders always end the school year with a wax museum.

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The students read biographies then write reports and poems about their person. A final part of the assignment is the costume.

Dressing like a historical figure puts students into that person's time of life -- literally into their shoes, said teacher Betty Erickson.

Elijah Adolphson, who studied Geronimo, enjoyed the chance to learn about another culture, he said.

"I thought it was sort of cool because I've never been a Native American before," he said.

Erickson's students chose from about 30 biographies of American historical figures. The men and women portrayed varied from the celebrated Susan B. Anthony and Wyatt Earp, to the more obscure people such as Red Cross founder Clara Barton and Revolutionary War hero Molly Pitcher.

The figures came from all walks of life. Some were warriors, others authors, scientists and humanitarians, but all played a role in American life and culture.

A lot of the people portrayed were cool and fun to learn about, Adolphson said.

Austin Santana portrayed Henry Ford, complete with the car baron's handle bar mustache.

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Santana chose Ford for his work with cars, which hold a fascination for the third grader.

Aleia Lupa wasn't so excited about Pocahontas. She got stuck with the Powhatan woman -- who was the last historical woman left in the class to chose.

The assignment, however, changed her views.

"I think she was pretty cool," Lupa said. "She was kind to a lot of people."

Samantha DeRosia portrayed Amelia Earhart at the wax museum, and she was definitely excited about the assignment.

"I wanted to learn about her," she said.

Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. DeRosia's outfit was complete with a brown bomber jacket, aviator hat and goggles. The outfit wasn't hard to find, her mom ordered it online, she said.

"I liked that people came and heard us sing and watched us stand still, and they learned about us," she said.

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The students had help in their costume from parents and Iron River School's costume bin.

Others, like Reilley Louma, who portrayed Gates didn't have a hard time finding a costume. Louma almost looked out of place surrounded by historical dress in a 21st Century button up shirt.

Besides the costumes, the wax museum is a chance for third grade students to showcase their talents. After standing still for photos, the third graders showcased their singing talent.

The class as a whole sang two songs, then several students read stories and biographies of their own they'd written in class.

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.com .

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