PALESTINE — Pocahontas could be found in Palestine Friday – sitting Indian-style, naturally, in front of a teepee – across the room from the Wright brothers, Abraham Lincoln and Walt Disney.
She was there, brought to life through fourth-grader Jessie Beckham, as one of 29 historical figures represented in Christian Heritage Academy's living wax museum, presented by the third- and fourth-grade classes of the K-6 Christian school.
For two hours, dressed head to toe in era-appropriate costume, students stepped out of themselves to embody the life of their chosen figure – a project that third-grade teacher Linda Love said required a month or preparation. Presentations generally lasted a little over a minute and were witnessed by friends, parents and students in younger classes.
“I was put in history for making peace between my people,” Beckham, as Pocahontas, told listeners. “I made peace between the people of John Smith and the Indians.”
Just a few feet away from the peace-loving Indian stood one man with a scruffy beard and a particularly tall black hat.
“I was the tallest president at 6 foot, 4 inches,” third-grader Lily Calhoun, as Abraham Lincoln, said. “In 1863, I signed the Emancipation Proclamation – all slaves were free. I was important because I knew slavery went against the Declaration of Independence; every human is equal.”
Following her speech, Calhoun told this reporter she enjoyed the project and getting to dress up.
“We had to read a biography, and we had to write down what was important,” she said. “We had to dress up like our character – that was really fun!”
For next year, Calhoun said she was thinking of being Hellen Keller – “the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree” – according to her fourth-grade friend Sarah Musik, who was sitting on a pew a few feet away and played Keller this year.