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History at the push of a button

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | April 10, 2010 9:00 PM

HAYDEN - Pushing people's buttons isn't normally encouraged in a school setting, but it was on Friday at Atlas Elementary. The lunchroom was transformed into a wax museum, with second-grade students posing, dressed as historical figures. A red paper "button" rested on a table in front of each child. They stood, frozen, waiting in character and costume, for someone to push their buttons.

HAYDEN - Pushing people's buttons isn't normally encouraged in a school setting, but it was on Friday at Atlas Elementary.

The lunchroom was transformed into a wax museum, with second-grade students posing, dressed as historical figures.

A red paper "button" rested on a table in front of each child.

They stood, frozen, waiting in character and costume, for someone to push their buttons.

"I lived on lots of farms. I was in the Army," said a white-wigged James Rabaduex. "People remember me because I was the first president of the United States."

Not breaking character after his speech concluded, the second-grade student explained, in the voice of George Washington, how his life ended.

"I was riding my horse, probably coming home from being president, and there was a bad storm. I got sick with a cold, and then I died."

Teacher Kim Yearsley said the children received the assignment three weeks ago, before spring break.

"They had to come back with their speeches ready," she said with a smile, as she gazed across the room. "There is no way they won't remember this for the rest of their lives."

Parents, grandparents and students from other classes walked from table to table listening to each child recite the biography of his or her character.

Pocahontas, Ben Franklin, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller and Wayne Gretzky were among the many historical figures represented.

As he waited for his button to be pushed, Marc McLure, 8, stared straight ahead, his arms held out from his sides, with a look of determination on his face.

"I was a good running back," said the boy, posing as Emmitt Smith. "I was in the Dallas Cowboys. My number was 22."

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