By Ciara Conley
What do Jim Henson, Amelia Earhart, Athenian Goddesses and Alexander Hamilton have in common? — They all gathered at Minford Middle School on May 15, sort of.
While these figures may not have been there literally, they were there figuratively. Each year, eighth-grade students choose a historical figure that interests them for the annual History Fair Day. The students study the lives, mannerisms and the impact their figure had in history.
The students do their best to embody that person, down to era-specific clothing and speech.
Former history teacher Belinda Allen started the history fair over 14 years ago. She has since retired but the school continues the tradition. Current history teacher Lori Rolfe now organizes the event.
“Typically the students chose someone that they’ve studied in either sixth, seventh or eighth grade history class, either living or dead. Sixth grade is a lot of religion, seventh is world history and eighth is American history,” explained Rolfe. “It has to be someone who has made an impact somehow to the world and in history.”
The history fair is an annual event at the school, it was designed to give students a break from their classes at the end of the year. But the event still provides educational opportunities, not only for the presenters but for the younger students who tour the fair.
One student, Caden Banks, dressed as Steve Irwin. Irwin was a well-known as the ‘Crocodile Hunter,’ he was an Australian wildlife expert and television personality. Irwin passed away in 2006 after a stingray barb pierced his heart.
Banks said he chose Irwin because, he too, loves animals. “I’ve always been interested in animals, I started off learning about them through little encyclopedias. When I started watching TV, I started watching him (Irwin) and he’s my idol. I think he’s the coolest guy ever.”
As part of his display, Banks brought in species of local wildlife and other items from his personal collection.
“I brought two box turtles, a male and a female, they were wild-caught but I’m not keeping them for long. I’ll be releasing them after this display. I have a gray tree frog, a red-backed salamander and two American toads. In another habitat I also have a small smooth-earth snake that I found while hiking. In my personal collection I have a snapping turtle skull, a stingray barb, that’s what he would have been stung by and shark teeth that I’ve found at the beach,” said Banks.
Students Zoe Wiget and Drew Skaggs dressed up as dynamic crime duo Bonnie and Clyde.
“I’m sure you know Clyde and I are famous for our love story and our criminal activity,” said Bonnie (Zoe). “I was not married to Clyde but I loved him, I was married at age 16 to another man named Roy. At 19, I met Clyde and we became criminals together, but he was sent to jail soon after we met.”
Clyde (Drew) added, “When I was in prison, she smuggled in a gun and I was able to escape. About a week after that, I was caught and I had to go to a hard labor camp during this time I worked on a farm most of the time. I faked an accident and I said I had my toe cut off and I didn’t have to do all the work so I then left the camp and was able to join the free world. Soon after that, we ran around five states between Texas and Louisiana, stealing, murdering, and robbing banks. In 1934, we were in a police ambush I was shot 17 times and she was shot 24 times and we both died on that day.”
Other figures ranged from ancient myths and legends, everything from Jesus to criminal gangsters and modern living figures like Stephen Hawking.
Rolfe said the public is always invited to attend the event each year and looks forward to seeing what next year holds.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext. 1932, Facebook “Ciara Conley – Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.