History comes alive

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Andalusia citizens will see John Wilkes Booth, Mary Queen of Scots and Annie Oakley and many others marching down East Three Notch Street on Friday morning, as part of the Andalusia Middle School sixth grade class’ “Living History Museum and Parade.”

“Living History” is an annual event at AMS, where sixth grade students research a famous character from history and complete several assignments including a report and timeline. The final project in the lesson is the “Living History” parade, where the students dress up in costume and then give speeches (in character, of course) about their characters’ lives and achievements.

“This is a great learning experience,” said AMS sixth grade reading teacher Linda Kyle. “The kids get a chance to work on so many skills, including research and writing. And, with the Living History museum, they also get a chance to work on their oral speaking skills.”

This year, there will be 120 students participating in the parade, each with a unique character and costume. The parade starts in front of city hall at 9:30 a.m., when the students will march down East Three Notch Street to the courthouse square. They will then collect on the square for the “Living History museum,” where each will give speeches and show off their unique costumes. The museum will be “open” until 11:15 a.m.

“I understand that several of our county schools are planning field trips to come and see it Friday,” Kyle said. “The AMS Ambassadors will lead the parade, and we’ll have the AMS band performing as well, which is always a treat. Something new this year is we’re going to have mule-drawn carriages in which the Andalusia City Schools Foundation members will have a chance to ride.

“The Foundation does a lot to help with this project and with other things the schools need. This is really a community effort.”

Students selected their characters by selecting a biography from the school’s library. In most cases, the children had heard of their character before, but wanted to learn more about his or her life.

“I learned that John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor who did a lot of Shakespeare plays,” said Chandler Jones, who will portray President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin in Friday’s parade. “I thought it was interesting to find out that he originally wanted to just kidnap Lincoln, and there were a lot more people involved in the plan, originally.”

Many of the students have older brothers and sisters who have previously participated in the parade, and are excited to get their chance to shine.

“I’m excited about it,” said Halle Burkhardt, who is playing Annie Oakley and whose brother Brayden was in last year’s parade. “I learned that even when she was only 8 years old, Annie Oakley was already really handy with a gun. I chose her, because I wanted to know more about her and know her real life story.”