By Donna Thornton/News Editor
A group of students at W.E. Striplin Elementary School brought figures from black history to life during February in the school’s Black History Wax Museum.
About 40 students participated – 32 portraying historical figures with others acting as museum ushers and tour guides.
Striplin principal Delsia Easley said she scouted out students she thought might be good choices to portray various figures well before time for the museum to open.
Students did their own research to find out about the people they would portray and their contributions to history.
The people represented in the museum encompass a variety of experience. From President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to winter Olympian Debbie Thomas and Dr. Ray Thompson (who Thompson Elementary School was named for), achievements of all kind were celebrated.
Visitors to the museum were greeted at the door by an usher who guided them to the gym where they were invited to sign in and received a program listing the figures portrayed and the students who portrayed them.
A tour guide shepherded visitors to each figure, locating a “button” on each figure. When the guide touched the button, the “wax” figure shared a brief biography of the figure he or she represented, while other figures waited their turn to share their story.
Striplin has had the wax museum for a few years now. Easley said they will do something else for Black History Month next year. School leaders plan to have the wax museum again in 2016.
Easley said the museum had more than 200 visitors during the afternoons that it was open. The first staging of the museum was during a school board meeting conducted at Striplin school. She said there were 75 visitors that evening alone.
In addition to the time and effort students put into the program, Easley said the school gets amazing support from parents and the community in making costumes and supplies for the project.
In addition to the staff and faculty at W.E. Striplin, Easley said Harriet Murray, Coach Zack Glaze, Amy Zapata, Sweet Home United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church of Gadsden offered their support and assistance with the museum.
Students who participated in the wax museum were:
Ushers: Tamiayh Blount, Kaylen Barnard, Ruben Gaspar, Ana Mendoza, Jalen Barnard, Alecya Posey, Barron Byers, and Amiya Pitts.
Students and the historical figures they portrayed were:
Monique Curry – Vivian Malone
Trinity Price – Debbie Thomas
Damia Steward – Dr. Mae Jemison
Thomas Butler – Justice Thurgood Marshall
Te’Shade Higgins – Hank Aaron
Justin McCarter – Dr. Martin Luther King
Jakahzeah Fleming – Madame C.J. Walker
Raileigh Hampton – Lena Horne
Deborah Skaya – Gladys Knight
Quiyana Rivera – Carol Mosley Braun
Kimori White – Paul Dunbar
Emma Margai – Condoleeza Rice
Janiah Griffin – Maggie Lena Walker
Jordyn Edwards – Dorothy Gilliam
Jaquan Ivey – Dr. James Hood
Ivyon Westbrook – Joe Louis
Quintyn Turner – President Abraham Lincoln
Jadon Martin – Dr. Ray Thompson
Jahra Waker – Vonetta Flowers
Jada Odom – Rosa Parks
Ethan Foster – Nelson Mandela
Cordell Worthy – President Barack Obama
Joseph Buchanan – Arthur Ashe
Demeron Rowell – Dr. Charles Drew
Jarod Taylor – Dr. George Washington Carver
Ryan Laney – President John F. Kennedy
Chanddies Harvey – Jupiter Hammon
Nevaeh Covington – Bessie Coleman
Joland Boldware – Michelle Obama