Contact Us

Living Museum History Night at Maxwell Schools

Students dress as historical figures

by Sherry Goodyear
MAXWELL — Imagine yourself surrounded by every conceivable famous historical figure from the past, and imagine those figures could tell you about their accomplishments, their dreams, their short-comings, in short, their life-stories.
Such was the scene at Maxwell High School’s auditorium on Tuesday night, when history teacher Michael Brandenburg’s students dressed up as  historical figures from the time-frame of the history class they are currently enrolled in and gave their spiel about that famous person’s life.
Parents and community members from Maxwell and the surrounding area filtered through Brandenburg’s interactive museum of historical figures on the eve of February 27.  The event, the idea for which Brandenburg says he, “stole from another teacher”, required each student to dress in a costume suitable for the person he or she was emulating, and all of them had a piece of paper at their feet with a number specific only to them and a “start” button that any interested person could step on, and thus begin the recitation about that historical person’s life.  People who viewed the living museum were able to fill out a paper for each presentation they heard and rank the students’ performances on presentation, memory, appearance, knowledge, and manners.
From Abigail Adams (Shiann Weisdorfer), to James Monroe (Austin Vaughn) to Sally Ride (Kiara Hoy), Brandenburg’s students did research on the historical person of their choosing.  His freshman geography students created tri-fold presentations on the country of their choice and presented information about it.  Students presenting on historical figures had to write up a two-page history of their person based on research they did, then they had to memorize the information, find an appropriate costume that reflected that figure’s life, and be ready to present it on cue for any of the attendees who stepped on their start button.  Some parts of the costumes were borrowed from the historic Shuler Theater in Raton, New Mexico.  Some students, like Audriana Apodaca, who dressed as Gloria Steinem, studied pictures of Steinem and mimicked her attire down to her ironed-straight hair and wire-rimmed glasses.
All in all, the event which was much like taking a trip to a living wax museum was well-attended.  Brandenburg was happy with the turn-out and the enthusiasm with which the kids approached the program.  As for the kids, their biggest challenge was reciting over and over again the two-page presentations they had to memorize without the use of note cards.  The only disappointing aspect of the program for this reporter was that there was not enough time to listen to all of the kids recite their presentations in the time allotted.  But that aside, it was a well-attended, interactive event that taught both the kids and those who took the time to listen,a little something about history they may not have known before.
After the presentations were over, the students gathered together for a group photo. Photo by Sherry Goodyear