Standing still for history at Kresson

Third graders’ class wax museum celebrates African Americans

Kresson Middle School Third Graders celebrate Black History Month with ‘wax museum’.

Every year for Black History Month, students at Kresson Middle School in Voorhees are asked to do history projects about famous Black leaders in America. But after years of the same endeavors, third grade teacher Lauren Kerns wanted to come up with something new.

Kerns and her husband Ron brainstormed one night and came up with the idea of a Black History wax museum. Instead of reading off poster boards, students are lined up throughout the room and dressed as their historical figure. They are then asked to talk in the first person about  the figure they’re representing and eventually stand as still as a wax figure of that individual. 

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Parents even pay – with fake money – to get into the classroom, with teachers and staff playing  museum employees. Kerns made signs that she put on the students’ chairs with their name as well as the person in history about whom they’re reporting.

“In honor of Black History Month, we used to just do posters and they would present it to the class, and it just (felt like) it was getting boring,” Kerns acknowledged. “So my husband and I came up with this idea.”

The idea includes a “pretend” button that, when parents are walking around, they can touch it,   the teacher added. That will ignite the student talks which are anywhere from 45 seconds to a minute long, according to Kerns, before becoming “wax figures.”

Students can choose any famous person, except Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Kerns said the class does a separate project on the Civil Rights leader on MLK day in January and she wanted her students to learn about other famous African Americans who don’t get as much recognition.

“… There are so many famous black Americans who contribute to our history, so they all had to pick someone else,” she said. “They are given three choices, and it comes on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Some of the historical figures played by the class this year included Barack and Michelle Obama, tennis great Serena Williams, Vice President Kamala Harris and baseball’s Jackie Robinson. There were also obscure figures even Kerns didn’t know about.

This year’s project was the first in Kerns’ class since COVID restrictions were lifted.

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