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USD 112 students invest in Kansas history
new kl Katie Gleason
Central Plains Middle School-Bushton student Katie Gleason presents a history of Georgia Neese Clark Gray, an influential woman in Kansas history at the Kansas Character Wax Museum last week. The seventh graders presented information about historical men and woman from Kansas to parents and visitors. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

BUSHTON — Things  worth doing are worth doing well, and seventh graders at Central Plains Middle School put this proverb to work as they invested time and energy learning about notable and not-so-famous Kansans.
Dressing in period costume and presenting a speech that they each wrote, the students shared what they learned since Christmas break in Social Studies and English with parents and students last week when they presented the “Kansas Character Wax Museum.”
Indeed, “it was pretty hard and then it was fun,” said student Katie Gleason. “I learned a lot. I thought it was going to be really boring. I ended up really liking it.”
Gleason portrayed Georgia Neese Clark Gray.
Gray was the first woman Treasurer of the U.S. from 1949-1953. She was from the Topeka area and was the Democratic National Committee member from Kansas from 1936-1964.
Wearing a hat and a style of dress from mid-twentieth century America, Gleason showed a PowerPoint presentation of pictures of Gray and voiced her memorized speech, lasting about five minutes. She, along with the rest of the students, researched their notable person.
As the visitors toured the gymnasium of historical figures, they pressed the figurative “button” to begin the recitation. The seventh graders stayed in character, and did not answer questions.
The characters were chosen because they were relatively unknown to the students. “The kids are very familiar with Amelia Earhart. I wanted them to learn about some other people in our history,” said Social Studies teacher Susan Weber.
“I had a list and the students drew randomly,”said Weber. “I think they’ve really had a lot of fun with it.”
For student Keeley Burris  the activity made an impression. “It’s better than reading out of a book. I’ll always remember this.”
The study met a wide range of standards. “In meeting our Common Core, we research, speak and present,” said Sandra Barton, English teacher. “This is a fun way to do it.” Also included were Social Studies, English and technology.
Barton visited wax museums and used them for an example for the school’s wax  museum.
Parent Sandi Oberle, whose son presented Gordon Jump, enjoyed her visit to the gym. “It was a good opportunity for students to learn public speaking,” she said.
The wax characters were Martin and Osa Johnson-Lydia Bailey and Grand Heldstab; Milton Eisenhower-Kealy Burris; Walter and Olive Beech-Mason Cox and Brianna Hickel; Walter Hickel-Alex Hickel; Karrin Allyson-Faith Hurley; Peggy Hull Duell-Candiss Kelly; Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker-Aubrianna Oberle; Gordon Jump-Jacob Oberle; Glen Cunningham-Devin Ryan; Hattie McDaniel-Hayley Chamberlain; Georgia Neese Clark Gray-Katie Gleason; Jim Ryun-Blake Gorton; Kathleen Sebelius-Katie Gunder; Ron Evans-Paxton Hammeke; Dee Wallace Stone-Avery Hurley; Melissa Etheridge-Destiny Hurley; Jack Kilby-Brett Liebl; Bill Kurtis-JC Radenberg; Karl Menninger-Ethan Strong; and Richard Myers-Mason Wimmer.