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Bill Ellis: Not Madame Tussauds, but 3rd-grade wax museum was quite spectacular

Mar. 10, 2013 @ 09:24 PM

The Third Grade Wax Museum at the Scott-Teays Elementary School is one of the most spectacular programs I have ever seen in an elementary school.

There they were, all the presidents of the United States and the first ladies. The idea came from teacher Debbie McCoy who originated this unusual program. The other two third-grade teachers, who with their students make it possible, are Wanda Starcher (a National Board Certified Teacher) and George Smith. Three talented curators.

Kitty and I had the privilege of visiting the world-famous Marie Tussauds Wax Museum in London, England. Her “life-size figures are noted for their remarkable realism.” These figures almost seem like they are alive and talking with you.  She was born Anna Maria Grosholtz in 1761 in Strasbourg, France.

On Feb. 17, 2011, Madame Tussauds opened a $2 million U.S. Presidential Gallery that houses wax figures of all 44 U.S. presidents. The Washington, D.C., attraction is the only place in the world where people can see and interact with all 44 U.S. presidents.

Some of our presidents have visited West Virginia and it would be interesting to know who, when, why and where — I would like to have answers to those questions and any visits to Putnam County. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, did visit in our county and we have a beautiful town name Eleanor.

Among the presidents I have seen or met would be Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and a number of vice presidents. None, however, were more friendly and enjoyable than those I met on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Scott Teays Elementary School.

I made it a special point to meet George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln all the presidents from and including Herbert Hoover and Barack Obama.

What did the students learn about the characters they were portraying? Their name, place of birth, name of their husband or wife, how many children they had, the presidents’ education, occupation, political party, their time in office, what they were primarily known for and when they died, if now deceased.

How were these students chosen to play certain roles? The names of all the characters needed were placed “in the hat” and it was basically the “luck of the draw.” No matter how they were chosen, they studied for and played their roles in a superb manner. Their parents and grandparents are our friends and neighbors and they must be very proud of their boys and girls.

In a relatively few years, these boys and girls will be the leaders of our county and teachers, business leaders, doctors, politicians and even our governor or president.

Kitty and I were deeply impressed by these third-grade students, all the other grades, their teachers and all those of our county. In my 25 years of involved attempts to learn in a formal setting I never had a teacher, principal, dean or president I did not like. I liked them all very much and they became life-long friends.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist who can be reached at P.O. Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560; phone 304-757-6089.