By Johnny Jackson
In a crowded elementary school gymnasium, students surveyed the room, and began to gather around their favorite exhibits.
Some gathered around 10-year-old Khan Shorter, and delighted in his portrayal of pop star, Michael Jackson.
Others crowded around a presentation in which several students performed a modern dance routine, in recognition of
famed choreographer, Alvin Ailey.
The two presentations were part of a "Living History Wax Museum" event Friday, at Tussahaw Elementary School in McDonough. The school-wide event, created by Tussahaw School Counselor Lisset Pickens, was designed as a celebration of Black History Month.
Pickens said the museum also served an educational function for students, in teaching them about influential African Americans. Several students volunteered to portray the talents of various representatives in black history, and tell of the significant contributions they made to American history.
"We want facts, and maybe a little fun," said fifth-grader Keileah Fears, 11. "It's learning about different people, and who they were, and how they helped make a difference. I think they made a difference in helping us become equal."
Shannon Biggs, a kindergarten teacher at Tussahaw, said the event played a part in her class lessons. She said her students studied the artist-quilter-author, Faith Ringgold, in class, and were able to demonstrate what they learned, through art, and artistic expression.
"It's wonderful," Biggs remarked. "It gives the children a chance to participate in their learning."
Menty McNeil -- the mother of five-year-old Elon McNeil, one of Biggs' students --said she appreciated the collective effort to educate students in a forum they had a voice in creating.
"I think it's very helpful for them to understand what black history is about," said McNeil.
Another parent, Tacaria Giles, toured the "Living History Wax Museum," taking snapshots with her digital camera. Her son, nine-year-old Jamari Giles, participated in the museum portrayal of the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.
"I think this is great," said the elder Giles. "It's an interactive way for kids to learn about black history."