After reading three to four books about George Washington, St. John School third-grader John Langlois said he has made a life-changing decision.
"I'm thinking about being president," he said Wednesday.
The St. John Catholic School portico was filled with students dressed as a variety of famous people such as Helen Keller, Katy Perry, Mother Teresa in addition to John as President Washington, during the school's annual St. John Wax Museum Project Wednesday afternoon. The event was one of many held this week during National Catholic Schools Week, which started Sunday and ends Saturday.
National Catholic Schools Week was created as an annual event by the National Catholic Education Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to offer an opportunity for Catholic schools to share with the greater community the accomplishments of its students, teachers and administration, according to a St. John School news release. The theme this year is "Catholic schools raise the standards."
St. John Catholic School in Westminster, a school with pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students, held several special activities this week to showcase its students, curriculum and school community, including visual arts and poetry competitions, a Walk in Wednesday school tour program and an It's Academic competition.
School Principal Harriann Walker said the wax museum was a way for parents and students in other grades to see the hard work completed by third graders.
"It's part of the celebration," she said. "We're very much into hands-on experiences."
Third-grade teacher Peggy Warner said the students began working on the wax museum project in December. After their chosen public figure was approved by the third-grade teachers, students got to work researching, writing a speech and preparing to act like that individual for the day.
"They could choose more or less whoever they want," she said. "We gear it toward people who have done wonderful things for society."
The students had specially decorated buttons for visitors to press. Pressing a button would cause one of the 37 students to begin reciting a speech.
Many students dressed in elaborate costumes, such as third-grader Alma Partenza, who portrayed Elvis Presley. She was so into character that she interrupted her speech with dance moves and recognizable quotes.
Alma said she was influenced by her 13-year-old brother who had found an Elvis Presley impersonator on the television show "America's Got Talent" to be highly entertaining. Alma explained in her speech that although Elvis had been successful in both rock 'n' roll and country - he was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame - she prefers his rock-'n'-roll music.
Before her wax museum debut, she studied videos of the self-proclaimed "King of Rock" and practiced the speech endlessly. Alma said she enjoyed the experience.
"It's just fun reading to people," she said.
John said he wanted to be George Washington because he is the most famous founding father. Washington has had a significant amount of influence over John.
But another third-grader decided he would rather dress as a different U.S. President. Ian Kish said he thinks that Abraham Lincoln was the best president. He began studying Lincoln last year and was instantly intrigued.
"He's very exciting," Ian said. "He was the 16th president. He freed slaves. And his face is carved into a mountain."
Ian had a small poster featuring pictures of the Emancipation Proclamation, the first black army unit in the Civil War and the Lincoln Memorial.
In addition to the events, the school used Catholic Schools week to announce that it is expanding its pre-kindergarten service, which is currently only offered for a half-day, Walker said. Starting next school year, the program will have a full-day option as well for pre-kindergarten students.
"We wanted to meet the needs of the community," she said.