Feb. 23, 2018

Wax Museum at Floro Torrence

PORTRAYING A HERO — Aniah B., a sixth-grader at Floro Torrence School 83, portrayed activist Ruby Bridges during her school’s “wax museum” on Thursday, Feb. 22. More than 30 sixth-grade students participated in the museum. Below, a student shares the information she learned about artist Faith Ringgold.

Josephine Baker sat with her back against the wall inside the hallway at Floro Torrence School 83 on Thursday morning, reminiscing about her entertainment career.

Michael Jackson, wearing his signature white rhinestone glove, played songs from his “Thriller” album while recalling his childhood in Gary, Ind.

Faith Ringgold

Ruby Bridges, the first child to desegregate schools in New Orleans, discussed her life as a mother, wife and author.

These icons — along with others — were recreated by more than 30 sixth-graders during Floro Torrence’s annual “Wax Museum.” Held each year in February, the event is a celebration of Black History Month.

Students, who represented entertainers, inventors, educators, athletes, activists and more, were stationed throughout the school (in the hallways and school gymnasium). As staff, parents and other students walked up to them, they began telling facts they had researched about their hero’s life.

Principal Heather Haskett said the idea for the museum originated 12 years ago by former sixth-grade teacher Marlon Sam, who wanted his students to learn about heroes throughout history and their lasting contributions we see today. 

“We have continued the tradition every year since,” said Haskett. “Student presentations are developed as the student portrays their hero in a ‘wax museum’ type fashion, allowing all students and participants to learn. … It brings history to life.”

Students are learning through inquiry, research and presentation. But it’s not just about celebrating African-American heroes.

“Our students identify with various people throughout history for various reasons. Learning about African-Americans as well as others and sharing their knowledge helps all of us learn and appreciate the contributions of all who have made this country great,” said Haskett. “Our sixth-grade students gain knowledge, skills and confidence as they work through their projects and presentations.”

Students begin working toward the Wax Museum in the fall by learning about various heroes and their contributions throughout history. They then narrow their choices to the one they identify with the most.

One of the requirements was to choose a hero who is a minority. They also have to research, study, write and prepare their poster, PowerPoint and oral presentation. 

Aniah B., who portrayed Ruby Bridges, said she chose the New Orleans resident, who bravely integrated schools as a child, because “she’s really important and I wanted to study what her life was like and why they didn’t like her in school.”

In addition to the Wax Museum, the school participated in a Freedom March followed by a civil rights program to culminate the celebration.