The children stood quietly, like wax figures. Each was costumed as a historical character and became animated only when a large button near their shoulder was pushed.
This was Josephine Maher's Pine Grove Elementary School annual wax museum featuring her fourth-grade class. "The Star Wax Museum is the culminating activity, once lots of learning has taken place," Maher said.
"The wax museum gives me the opportunity to be creative, integrating standards from every area. Through the wax museum I try to tackle the state-mandated fourth-grade social studies curriculum, which consists of American history, geography, economics and civics, in a fun way," she said.
There were life lessons learned, too, Maher said. "We work together as a team; we practice our lines with star buddies and get the giggles out together as we rehearse."
Part of the fun is when the museum is opened to visitors. Parents, friends and relatives were welcomed to the school's stage, where the children waited in a line. Buttons were pushed, and the silent figures perked up and recited what they had learned about the characters they studied.
Francesca D'Arco, dressed as Marjory Stoneman Douglas, shared what she liked about the event and what she learned about Douglas. "I like the part when I practiced on stage," she said. "I learned that she lived to be 108 years old. She kept on fighting for the Everglades restoration."
Cameron Bayko, 9, played John James Audubon. "I learned that he painted birds. He made a book called The Birds of America." Cameron was a little worried about the presentation but said he liked the practicing. "I thought it would be impossible for me, and it turned out being good," he said.
Walter Viveiros was at the museum to see his son and his classmates. Kyle Viveiros, 10, portrayed Thomas Edison. Walter Viveiros was impressed. "I think it's fantastic. It's a great way for them to become the parts. They get to internalize the character. I think it's a great teaching tool. It's a great learning tool."
Kaleigh Barton, 10, was dressed as Harriet Beecher Stowe. "She was an American abolitionist, and she did not like slavery. She was against it."
Grandparent Jan Vella was there to see Kaleigh. "This is wonderful," she said. "They've got to be learning so much. They all did such a good job, too."
They learned academics. They learned presentation. But, Maher said, "The confidence I see in them is immeasurable."
Here are the wax museum cast members and their characters: Logan Aldrich, John Ringling; Trinity Baker, May Mann Jennings; Kaleigh Barton, Harriet Beecher Stowe; Cameron Bayko, John James Audubon; Knija Clayton, Beth Johnson; Francesca D'Arco, Marjory Stoneman Douglas; Hayden Dodgen, Micanopy; Blake Hannequin, Hernando de Soto; Octavia Leavens, Dorothy Dodd; Nicole McAvoy, Henry Morrison Flagler; Cheyanne Nelson, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; Malik Norton, James Weldon Johnson; James Roush, Osceola; Damian Scarborough, Winslow Homer; Kyle Viveiros, Thomas Alva Edison; Tyrell Young, Juan Ponce de Leon; Patricia Bradley, Janet Reno; Caleb Hines, Dr. John Gorrie.