Influential people from 1950s appear in Chelsea

Published 4:27 pm Monday, March 7, 2011

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

“I sing in musicals at church,” Elvis Presley said last Monday at Chelsea Intermediate School, while Dr. Jonas Salk told how he received a gold medal from President Eisenhower for his development of the polio vaccine.

No, these famous people didn’t actually come back to life and speak. They were two of many influential people from the 1950s who were portrayed in the “Wax Museum” by students in the school’s gifted classes.

The classes have been studying the various decades, Gifted Resource Director Leigh McLemore said. They are now studying the 1950s and that is why they chose to portray individuals from this decade.

Wax Museum presentations ran for five days, giving all students in the gifted program opportunity to participate, and allowing the entire school to visit the museum.

To prepare for the exhibits, “students wrote and memorized a two-minute presentation, created a visual display (artifact, poster or tri-fold board) and made business cards to represent their person of influence,” said Jeff Norris, a teacher for gifted students. Characters in the museum “froze” in place while music played and the audience made up of students, teachers and parents moved from one exhibit to another. When the music stopped characters “came alive” and gave presentations about themselves.

Emily Johnson of Chelsea Intermediate School’s Gifted program as Lucille Ball from the 1950s I Love Lucy show. (Contributed)

Students were rated by other students, parents and teachers according to preparedness, knowledge, speaking ability, creative display and character accuracy.

The Wax Museum exhibits were also presented at a PTO meet-and-greet program for new principal, Dr. Resia Brooks, and at a Chelsea Gifted Education Night. At the latter program, “parents received information about social and emotional needs of gifted students and tips ‘from parents for parents’ on how to parent a gifted child,” he said.

The term “Intellectually gifted children and youth” is defined by the Alabama Association for gifted Children as “those who perform at high levels in academic or creative fields when compared to others of their age, experience, or environment.”  According to the State Department of Education’s website, these students “require services not ordinarily provided by the regular school program.”

Chelsea has 165 fourth and fifth grade students in its gifted program, Norris said. Gifted Resource teachers/directors are McLemore, Norris and Patricia Sanford. They work with regular teachers and gifted students, helping the students learn how to develop and use their gifts through activities like the Wax Museum.
Shelba Nivens can be reached by e-mail at