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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
FEBRUARY 28, 2017 – One of Zion Reynolds’ grandmothers is named Mary Jackson. So when Zion saw that Mary Jackson was the name of an African-American mathematician and aerospace engineer, she knew exactly who she wanted to portray in the Living Wax Museum that third-graders were doing at Speas.
On Friday, parents and other family members at Speas Global Elementary School were invited to visit the classrooms where students were depicting people of note. Visitors could push a button on the student’s desk and the student would tell them all about the person.
Zion’s mother, Luezillia was one of those who came.
“I think it’s a neat experience,” Luezillia Reynolds said. “It allows them to do more than just research It allows them to come alive.”
A couple of desks over Sophia Lampkin was portraying Katherine, another African-American woman who made contributions to the United States’ aerospace program. Sophia chose Johnson because of the math connection.
“I really like math,” she said.
Jakyrah Griffin chose Silva Schur, a food editor who is given credit for creating clamato and cranapple juices and for inventing the corn dog, a food that Jakyrah enjoys.
“It’s good,” she said.
Jakyrah likes to cook and has already invented her own food, a brownie with a dot of honey in the middle.
“I gave it to my aunt and she said it was good,” she said.
Jakyrah might become a chef on day. She likes lots of other things, too, though, so she will just have to wait and see.
Kendra Edwards knew she wanted to portray a creative woman. Her research turned up Sarah E. Goode, an inventor who was given a patent for the folding cabinet bed in 1885.
“I think this is wonderful,” said Kendra’s mother, Dellanie Pinkney-Edwards. “It builds their self-esteem and confidence.”
Kendra wants to be a teacher, and her mother thinks she has what it takes to make an excellent one.
Israel Bautista picked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg partly because Israel also likes computers,and imagines a career in that field.
“Plus, he’s rich, rich, rich,” Israel said.
LaBryan McCarther wants to grow up to be a professional basketball player so he chose to depict Michael Jordon.
“He is one of my favorite basketball players and everyone in my family likes Michael Jordon,” LeBryan said.
Asked for a fact about Jordon, he said, “He is the second-richest African-American after Oprah.”
Sade Baldwin had borrowed a set of beads from her mother to use as part of her outfit when portraying fashion designer and businesswoman Coco Chanel.
Quick! Who invented the Barbie doll?
Jeleia Webster can tell you that it was Ruth Handler, an inventor who served as president of the Mattel toy company.
“She inspired me,” Jeleia said.
She believes it’s important to be yourself and wants to help girls who are afraid to be themselves.
“Stay who you are and people will like you for who you are,” Jeleia said.
One of the fringe benefits of students doing research into notable people, said teacher Kuana Johnson, is “it really teaches them about how history affects the present day.”
Johnson learned a lot herself as students told her about the people they researched.
For her depiction of toy inventor Jacqui Tobias, Nylaja Malloy – with help from her mother – had turned herself into one of the toys Tobias invented. Nylaja likes that they provide a creative outlet.
“Girls can have fun instead of watching TV,” she said.
When she grows up, Nylaja wants to be a baby doctor.
“I want to help people,” she said.
Sisters Presley Wilkinson and Reese Wilkinson were born less a year apart. Presley chose to portray Queen Elizabeth, while Reese chose actor Reese Witherspoon because they share the same first name.
Presley has no interest in becoming a queen. She wants to become a bird scientist. The rarest bird she has ever spotted is the cedar waxwing.
“They are really rare,” she said. “You can only find them one time a year.”