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North Hall students emulate famous people and put history on display
Emma Berry laughs as she gives her presentation as Marilyn Monroe during the Morning with Memorables at North Hall Middle School Friday. - photo by Tom Reed

Parents and teachers at North Hall Middle School recently got the chance to see a five-star general, two world-class athletes and even George Harrison of The Beatles make an appearance.

More than 20 eighth-grade students dressed up as historical figures Friday and gave spectators a glimpse into their acclaimed lives.

"He saved agriculture in the South and even though he didn't invent peanuts, he did make them very popular," said Andrew Cape, who was dressed as George Washington Carver.

Cape said he chose the famous scientist because he wants to join the agriculture industry one day.

"I live on a farm in Clermont and we mostly own cows. We've also planted peanuts before," he said.

Directed studies teacher Kathy Mellette said the students spent two weeks researching biographies. They created a presentation which included a poem about their chosen person and a history trifold.

"They chose people that shaped the world and made a mark in sports, religion, politics and art," she said. "Some of the students picked people who matched their personalities."

Students from other classrooms at North Hall went from person to person and watched as Mellette's class took on a new persona.

Laila Hasnain was wearing a Navy blue jacket and playing a piece from "The Marriage of Figaro" on the keyboard to imitate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Hasnain said she's played the piano since second grade.

"He plays such complex music and that's the kind I like. It kind of tells a story," she said.

Her classmate, Zach Alexander, had a similar respect for his historical figure, Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was dressed in uniform to represent the five-star general and the 34th U.S. president.

For his display, he brought a framed newspaper article which mentioned Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and his grandfather, Col. J.R. Stockman.

"He knew them both; he was a partial bodyguard for Kennedy," Alexander said.

Nearby, Ty Kieschnick had set up an easel and his reproduction of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night." To play the tortured genius, Kieschnick bandaged his ear and donned a jacket that was similar to the one he had seen Van Gogh use in self-portraits.

He said he was inspired by Van Gogh from his research.

"I like his brush strokes and how he's not afraid to be different," Kieschnick said.

Beatles buff Chris Bellows decided to study guitarist George Harrison. He set up an iPod that blared "Come Together" and compiled a small collection of Harrison-related items, such as a guitar. He also spoke with a British accent.

"I chose George Harrison because Ringo (Starr) has a big nose and a guitar is easier to find than a bass, so I couldn't be Paul McCartney. Plus I like how he plays," he said.

He said he enjoyed finding out how young the Beatles were when they started their career.

"They were about 16 or 17 when they went on their first foreign tour," Bellows said.

Other characters who came to life Friday included Steve Irwin, Barbara Streisand, Desmond Tutu, Stephen Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.

Mellette said she plans to repeat the project next year.

"I think biographies are a great way to study people you wish to be emulating."


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