With her ankle-length, black, button-front dress with white lace cuffs and white, lace-fringed bonnet, Malia Dungee looked like she had stepped out of the Victorian age.
Or at least out of the photo of Florence Nightingale that she stood beside.
“She helped nursing become an important profession, and she really helped hospitals become a sacred place to be at,” said Malia, a Brookfield Middle School seventh grader, speaking of Nightingale at the March 17 “Night at the Museum.”
The entire seventh grade participated in “Night at the Museum,” a public event inspired by the Ben Stiller movie in which historical figures come to life.
The students chose subjects from a hat and researched them; created story boards with photos, timelines and lists of accomplishments; wrote short speeches about their subjects; and dressed like them.
King Tut mingled with Frida Kahlo, and Ronald Reagan hung out with Amelia Earhart.
“It was pretty fun,” said Anthony Capretta, who portrayed Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin.
“We didn’t do much school work,” Anthony said, apparently unaware that what he was doing was school work. “We did this all day.”
Social studies teacher Brad Harnett coordinated “Night at the Museum,” an event he participated in when he attended Brookfield Middle School, and has brought back for a new generation.
“They may hate it right now, but they’ll remember it,” he said. “I want to make it a big event, like, every year it gets bigger and better.”
Actually, quite a few of the kids enjoyed the assignment, and Harnett noticed that some students who otherwise don’t put much effort into their school work went all out for this assignment.
Harnett was already cataloging improvements for next year.
“Next year, maybe we’ll do some fundraising to get some color (photographs),” he said. “Every year we can do better.”
“I love that they opened it up for the parents and not just for the students themselves,” said Christina Hill, whose son, Jacob, portrayed Spartacus, the Roman gladiator. “I like to see all the effort that some students put into it. I thought it was a cool idea.”
Evan Viconovic said he didn’t know much about Louis Armstrong before the project, but was glad to be horned in with one of the world’s greatest trumpet players.
“It was pretty fun, just because I play trumpet and he did, too,” Evan said.
Evan listened to some of Armstrong’s music.
“I want to print ‘What a Wonderful World,’ and try it,” he said. “But, I feel like I’m not gonna have it right.”
Buckskin dress-clad Mia Dallessandro said her research on Pocohontas exposed things that Disney changed in the movie version of her life.
Jacob said he appreciated getting a character that is not as stodgy as you would expect from someone from history.
“I kind of like the more action history,” he said.