FARMINGTON — In between signing autographs and speaking to the public, astronaut Neil Armstrong chatted with Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low as Civil Rights activist Corretta Scott King stood nearby, leaning against a table.
That was possible because fifth-grade students at Country Club Elementary School dressed as famous Americans from history as part of an annual wax museum project. The students filled up the school gymnasium Thursday afternoon.
For the project, students researched an American figure and then pretended to be that person, said fifth-grade teacher Kathy Smith.
While researching the figure, students looked for 25 important facts and seven to 10 important dates from that person's life to place on a timeline. Students also wrote a five-paragraph report and prepared a first-person speech, which they read after donning costumes. They presented their projects to students in kindergarten through fourth grade, as well as parents.
"Look how proud they are," Smith said, looking out at her students. "They have really worked hard. It's not easy for a fifth grader to sit and type all that stuff. To see their faces now that they've got it all put together, I know how hard they worked on it to talk about their people."
After speaking as Carrie Chapman Catt, fifth-grader Karisma Lloyd signed autographs for students using Catt's name. Lloyd said she enjoyed learning about Catt, a leader in the women's suffrage movement.
"I really liked learning all the information," Lloyd said. "I think I gained that women have rights like men do, but, sometimes, it gets really hard for them."
Lloyd said the most difficult part of the project was putting together an outfit from the time period during which Catt lived, which was from 1859 to 1947.
Other famous Americans who visited the school gym included Apple founder Steve Jobs; Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman; former President Bill Clinton; and labor and community organizer Mary Harris Jones.
Located near the gym entrance, Mason Broten was deep in character as Merriweather Lewis with a musket and a powderhorn as part of his costume.
"He is famous for exploring hundreds of miles of the United States and battling Indian tribes and reaching the Pacific (Ocean)," Broten said.
Dressed up as Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife, Corretta Scott King, Edna Upton said the project was hard but she also had fun.
"(Corretta Scott King) is a very brave woman. She is very inspiring to me," Upton said. "She spoke for the rights for a lot of people."