Annual event allows students to tap into presidential characters

It was a bittersweet Thursday afternoon for Port Matilda Elementary School teacher Carrie Sharkey.

It was the last time she hosted the annual Presidential Wax Museum with her third-grade class.

At the end of this school year, the longtime Bald Eagle Area School District teacher is retiring.

And Thursday’s event, which coincided with President’s Day week, came with great joy and much sadness.

“It’s one of my favorite things we do,” Sharkey said. “I’m going to miss it, but will be back next year to volunteer.”

Sharkey generally holds a six weeklong government lesson with her class throughout January and February.

She said the lesson helps her students learn about past presidents and the election process, but in a way that 8- and 9-year-old students can understand — and all while having fun.

At the end of the lesson, students are required to participate in a final project that requires them to research a president of their choice and then present their project it to their peers and the public.

Stationed along the walls of the school stood more than 25 students dressed as the presidents they researched. All posed without moving, their presidential characters were activated when someone pressed a faux button on their hand.

They then presented about a 30-second speech about the president they represented.

“It’s just cool to tell people about the facts we learned,” said Trevor Tice, who played Thomas Jefferson.

Classmate Hannah Briner said her favorite part was being able to dress up.

While some students said nerves may have gotten the best of them, classmates Alexis Stimer and Coleman Liner said memorizing their routines was a breeze.

Sharkey said the event has been a Port Matilda Elementary tradition for more than 10 years.

And though she’s leaving the school, the event won’t be going with her.

Sharkey said it’s being handed down to longtime teacher Sarah Stere, who is teaching third grade for the first time in her 17-year teaching career.

“I know it will be in good hands,” Sharkey said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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