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Local students plan Mini Smithsonian
Chestatee Academy classes will turn their school into a museum
Chestatee Academy of Inquiry and Talent Development student Abby Xander reads her part while moving a puppet during a puppet show rehearsal for the upcoming "Night at the Museum." - photo by Tom Reed

Night at the Museum

Where: Chestatee Academy of Inquiry and Talent Development, 2740 Fran Mar Drive, Gainesville

When: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday

At the end of the school day Tuesday, Chestatee Academy of Inquiry and Talent Development in Gainesville will convert into a "mini Smithsonian," Principal Suzanne Jarrard said.

Middle school students will unroll more than 60 exhibits, including archery demonstrations and a fashion show, for the school's second annual Night at the Museum. The event is the culmination of the students' Seeking Out Authentic Relationship clusters, which are specialty academies held for 3½ hours each school week.

"This is a chance for students to practice their presentation skills and increase their knowledge on the topic they investigated," Jarrard said.

Many of the classrooms will be open for exploration Tuesday and presentations may also be planned outdoors, depending on weather conditions. This semester, the school's academies included radio broadcasting, rock history, anatomy, culinary arts and forensics.

"Last year, we had more people come than any other event we've had. There were over 700 people, and I expect the same number this year," Jarrard said.

Students from the academy "Fashion Forward" have prepared a full-fledged fashion show, with a collection of dresses made of duct tape they created during the semester. The class also is attempting to partner with outside retailers to add more items to the show, said Jarrard.

The action-filled night will include outside displays as well, such as archery demos and a practice dig site from the school's archeology academy. The equestrian academy is also planning to bring a few horses to campus.

"The students will be riding the horses and showing people jumps, the proper attire and explain information about horses to the younger children," Jarrard said.

The students will continue the museum Wednesday, to demonstrate their new skills and knowledge to local elementary school students. Many of these children will transfer to Chestatee Academy the next school year, Jarrard said.

"I think it will build some excitement in students and they will see what they can look forward to when they move to middle school," Jarrard said.

The event also will mark Chestatee's first museum as an inquiry-based charter school. The school was approved by the state last June. Jarrard said that last year's museum was part of the academy pilot program.

Students will select new academies next semester and their discoveries will conclude with another Night at the Museum next spring.