Third grader Rachel Hefner wears a helmet, goggles, and a long scarf as she portrays aviator Amelia Earhart at Toth Elementary School. She was one of 75 participating in the annual museum re-creation.
Atop the cobra's head, a yellow sign: "Press here if you dare."
White fangs failed to scare off folks who tapped the homemade activation device, prompting Steve Irwin -- portrayed by 9-year-old James Lambert -- to leap to life.
Clutching a life-sized crocodile (no, not a real one), James talked about the late Mr. Irwin, an Australian television personality, wildlife expert, and conservationist.
One of 75 third-grade students at Perrysburg's Toth Elementary who took part in the school's annual wax museum, James decided to portray Mr. Irwin because the youngster likes things that squawk or slither.
"Well, it started out when I was really young, watching hundreds of TV shows. I decided to do Steve Irwin because I really like animals. I like all animals, but reptiles and birds a lot," he said, adding that he likes to watch educational programs about animals.
Throughout the gymnasium, the likes of Helen Keller, Cleopatra, Johnny Cash, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton rubbed shoulders with Walt Disney, Prince William, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and dozens of other famous people.
Jaydin Deland adjusts the mustache that is helping him get into character as comic-book creator Stan Lee. Among other famous people at the event were Helen Keller and Johnny Cash.
Crowded into the wax museum were parents, grandparents, and students from other grade levels at Toth.
Jim Lambert of Swanton said he was impressed with the students' presentations, including his grandson's portrayal of the crocodile hunter who died after he was stung by a stingray in 2006. "I just love watching the interactions of the students," Mr. Lambert said.
Some attendees received invitations made by students. Creating invitations was one of several educational components that were part of the wax museum project, explained third-grade teacher Adrienne Holmes.
Excitement escalated last week as the wax museum opened its doors.
Frozen in place in anticipation of being activated by visitors, some students seemed nervous, but quickly relaxed as buttons were pressed and biographies recited.
Of course, the buttons weren't actually hooked up, but they worked fine to animate the students, dressed in outfits appropriate to their wax museum characters.
Colorful, creative activation systems were A+ worthy, such as Megan Solon's squeeze-the-stuffed-shark button, decorated with a Hawaiian lei. Megan, posed atop a homemade purple surfboard accented with silver stripes, portrayed surfer Bethany Hamilton, who at age 13 survived a tiger shark attack which left her with a severed left arm.
The story of Bethany's life was featured in Soul Surfer, a movie that inspired Megan. The surfer's motto, the Toth student said, is to "Rise Above It," and that's a good way to live your life.
Toth students were instructed to portray a person, living or dead, who was a role model, Mrs. Holmes said. Students read biographies, conducted additional research, wrote summaries and speeches, and then practiced their presentations, she said.
A pillbox hat and big sunglasses help transform Kennedy Kersten into Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Rebekah Conner, 9, who portrayed an Egyptian queen, said, "I have been really interested in Cleopatra most of my life. I really like Egypt." Her fit-for-a-queen outfit glittered with gold-colored fabric, and her headpiece sparkled with strands of gold beads. Athletes (football, hockey, soccer stars) were well represented at the wax museum. Allison Sherman, 9, was dressed as soccer player Mia Hamm, who won Olympic gold. Mia was a natural selection for Allison's wax museum character "because she is one of my favorite athletes, and soccer is my favorite sport," she said.
Several students said they liked the wax museum project because they learned a lot. Alyssa Long, who portrayed Sacagawea, said she was surprised to learn that the interpreter and guide didn't have a hometown because she moved often.
Singers too were there in the spotlight. Dressed in a white jump suit accented with an orange scarf, Thomas Beebe clutched a black microphone and told visitors about the life of Elvis Presley.
As he wrapped up his presentation, Thomas as Elvis said, "Sadly, and I know you miss me, I died on January 16, 1977."
A few minutes later, students folded up their informational display boards, packed up note cards, and the whirlwind of activity slowed to a stop. As parents hauled home hockey sticks, helmets, and other props and costume accessories, the wax museum closed down for another year.
Elvis -- and all of the other famous folks -- had left the building.
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