Past comes alive in roles San Benito students play

SAN BENITO — Like wax figures in a museum, the seventh-grade social studies classes played their roles to perfection.

One click of an imaginary button and the observer would receive information on famous outlaw Bonnie Parker.

The student, who was dressed in attire from Parker’s era, described her life in Texas and her career of crime.

The push of another button summoned the likeness of Lyndon B. Johnson, former United States president and Texas native.

Tuesday evening, students at Miller Jordan Middle School weren’t just playing historical figures, they were acting out history and informing the public.

One would say they were “living history.”

As class assignments go, participation in the Texas Living History Museum went off without a hitch.

The seventh-grade social studies students were randomly given a famous person in Texas history,

Their teacher, Valerie Edwards, said they were encouraged to research and dress up like the subject.

“We’ve got heroes and villains,” she said of the annual event.

This year they really got into it.

The students were required to research the person, find pictures, write a biography, and come up with a bibliography and a speech, Edwards said.

When someone activated the imaginary button on their display, the students start to portray their character.

Once it’s over, they go silent and remain that way until the button is pushed again. Just like a wax museum.

Fernando Esquivel, 12, was Davy Crockett.

To get into character, he donned a raccoon-skin cap and a tan leather fringed jacket.

He said he really wanted his part to be authentic as possible.

For those that don’t know, Crockett is a popular figure in Texas history. He is known as a frontiersman, folk hero, congressman and Alamo defender.

According to Fernando’s research, everything that Crockett did, he did with his family in mind. That is what he said he admires most about the famous figure.

“He was supporting his family,” Fernando said.

Seventh grade tends to focus more on Texas history and this event plays perfectly into the curriculum being taught.

“Once you take on that character, you can step back into time and realize the significance that person had on state history,” Edwards said.

“This is more than just a book report. They have been working on this for more than a month.”

Jaelynn Huerta, 12, was Henrietta Chamberlain King, famous rancher and philanthropist.

“She was a rancher whose husband was a rancher in the King Ranch,” Jaelynn said. “He was called to fight in the Confederate army. When he left and ultimately died, she took over the ranch business.”

The more research they did, the students discovered little things they admired about the famous figures from history.

“She liked to help everybody. She donated money to churches, colleges and hospitals. Even though she was sick at the time, she would always help other people,” Jaelynn said.