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Wider Horizons students step into historical figures' shoes at annual biography fair

SPRING HILL — Susan B. Anthony was one of 11 children. Christopher Columbus' parents owned a cheese stand. The 96th element on the periodic chart is named curium for Marie and Pierre Curie. Salvador Dalí had a pet llama named Dalí Llama.

Interesting information surfaces around the end of October when Wider Horizons School students dress up in costumes and teach each other about people who came before them.

First- through 12th-grade students — along with a few kindergarteners — participated in the school's annual biography fair. In addition to dressing up, the students researched and prepared presentations about the historical figures they chose to portray.

The presentations were given before a panel of judges — parents and former students — who look for knowledge of facts, delivery, ability to speak and costuming. The students received critiques of their performances and participation ribbons. Winners were invited to other grade levels at a later time to do their presentations again.

"Part of why they do this is to get the children comfortable with public speaking," said Cathi Gay, who team-teaches second and third grades with Mary Musselman.

Gay said there is a significant difference in the quality of the presentations as the students progress through grade levels.

Third-grader Sarah Concepcion, 8, portrayed Helen Keller. Besides what she learned about her subject, she also benefited from her classmates' efforts. One thing that impressed her was a portrayal of Annie Oakley.

"I learned that Annie Oakley started shooting and trapping when she was 8," Sarah said.

Sarah's classmate, Kobe Chua, 8, presented Christopher Columbus. Kobe described the process of preparing for the bio fair.

"We write it down from childhood to death. We borrow books from the library," he said.

What he learned from one of his classmates, Kobe said, was that "Theodore Roosevelt and his men were called the Rough Riders. And I learned that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president."

Third-grader Kazandra Crisostomo, 7, dressed as Madame Curie. She said the purpose of the event was "to learn more facts about interesting people." She learned that "Abe Lincoln was shot in the back of the head."

Julie and Dominick Maglio are the founders and directors of Wider Horizons. They have seen lots of students participate in this event through the years.

"They come in and are very excited about their presentations," Dominick Maglio said. "It really is a celebration of history."

Wider Horizons students step into historical figures' shoes at annual biography fair 11/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 1:54pm]
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