A lesson in North Carolina history

Nov. 21, 2013 @ 06:05 AM

 North Carolina history is coming to life at Sunshine Elementary School this week. Blackbeard, the Wright brothers, members of the Smoky Mountain Railroad and others are featured in the school's annual biography museum. 

For the museum, the fourth grade students dress up and act out a variety of historical figures. On Wednesday, they performed the acts for their fellow students and tonight they will perform for their parents. 

"It's so much fun for the kids. They learn so much more if they are acting it out and are hands-on," said Robin Smith, media coordinator who puts the museum together every year. "We try to match them up with characters we think fit their personalities." 

The students were taken to stations around the school which featured different exhibits and skits put on by the fourth graders. Smith said she decided to give the museum a North Carolina theme this year to go along with the fourth grade social studies curriculum. 

"This is our fourth year doing the museum. The first year we used the third grade and it was a little bit more difficult. Fourth grade seems to be the perfect age," Smith said. "They get really excited to do it independently and the fifth graders are always excited because they can make that connection that they did the work last year." 

Along with historical figures from the state, the museum also includes some figures that people from Rutherford County should know like Christopher Bechtler, who minted the first gold coin dollar in Rutherfordton and Edward Washburn, owner of Washburn's General Store in Bostic. Washburn and his wife Catherine attended the museum on Tuesday. 

"They invited us to come today. The classes came out to my store about three weeks ago," Washburn said. "They stayed about an hour and toured the store and asked questions." 

For the Bechtler exhibit students give some history and walk the audience through the steps of minting a gold coin. 

"I like being with the people I love and putting something together. We've been working on this since the beginning of the year. It's a blast putting it together," said student Breanna Hammond who played a role in the Bechtler exhibit. "The most interesting thing that I've learned is that the first gold rush was actually in North Carolina. That was an interesting fact because I thought it was in California." 

Smith said the school continues to put together the biography museum every year because it encourages learning and it lets them shine in different ways outside of the normal classroom setting. She is already planning for next year's theme which will be scientists and inventors. 

"I have so many volunteers that help to make this a success every year," Smith said. "It really is a hit." 

For the finale, the students perform at skit based on the Andy Griffith Show. The students will do the program for their parents tonight starting at 6 p.m. tonight.