Swansfield's Y2Kids dress up history lessons for `Millennimania!'


February 23, 2000|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BABE RUTH, Bill Clinton, Charlie Chaplin and Elvis Presley rocked the gym at Swansfield Elementary School Feb. 16.

At least their pint-size versions did.

History came alive as third- and fifth-graders from Noel Richman's Gifted and Talented resource class performed "Millennimania!"

The Y2Kids, as they called themselves, acted in skits and sang about the changes our country has seen since 1900. The production was written and choreographed by Richman.

After the show, the 47 students stood at individual displays -- each highlighting the events of one decade of the 20th century -- that lined the perimeter of the gym.

"This show is a celebration of their studies and the whole century," Richman said.

Since August, the children have been studying people and events of the 20th century. Last month, each student was assigned a decade to research. Then they prepared a display representing that decade.

The children focused on four areas of study: social, cultural, political and technological changes.

They were encouraged to interview family members about events that took place before they were born. The unit was intended to foster an interest in history and to open a dialogue among children, their parents and grandparents, Richman said.

Because the elementary school curriculum includes limited coverage of the 20th century, Richman said, "so much of this hasn't come up in the kids' lives before. For many of them, it was a real eye-opener."

Third-grade twins Matthew and Josh Fagan had help from their grandparents Martin and Barbara Fagan of Highland in researching their projects.

Josh was decked out as Charlie Chaplin -- complete with black bowler and cane.

His study focused on the lives of women in the 1920s. His display included a watch worn by his great-grandfather.

"My grandma taught me a lot," Josh said. "She helped me with some of the theaters and the Broadway things."

Matthew was one of the Elvis impersonators present. He explained to visitors at his display how television changed the life of the average American family in the 1950s.

His artifacts from the era included his grandmother's high school yearbook and a (modern) TV dinner.

"In many cases, some of the events are very difficult for them to comprehend, so we had to do a lot of teaching," said Barbara Fagan, former assistant principal at Swansfield and the boys' grandmother. "They had a lot of questions, and we had to interpret what they were learning."

Christina Catizone, 11, studied the 1920s. Her parents, Nancy and John Catizone, joined in the costumed fun. Mother and daughter dressed as flappers, sporting dropped-waist dresses and long strands of beads, while Mr. Catizone dressed in a tuxedo -- stylish in any decade.

They weren't the only parents in costume. Stella Fanzone wore a tailored suit with a bustle and train from the early part of the century.

Her son, Nathan, 8, dressed as Babe Ruth.

He researched why the 1920s were called "The Roaring '20s." Nathan's display included information on barnstorming, magician Harry Houdini, pole-sitting and featured a large cutout of a 1929 Packard.

Mrs. Fanzone said she was pleased that her son had gotten an overview of the 20th century in Mrs. Richman's class.

"He's learned things that I forgot about, and he would come and reteach me," she said.

Costumed as Dennis the Menace, 10-year-old Nathaniel Mann wore blue denim overalls with a rubber snake and a slingshot spilling out of the pockets, and he sported a cowlick in his hair. He researched the 1950s with a little help from his mother, Anita Gensch, who was born in 1959.

His display included an issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, a box of Eggo waffles and Imperial margarine -- all of which became available in the 1950s.

Edward Barth, 11 -- dressed up as President Clinton in a blue suit and red power tie with his hair sprayed gray -- presented his research on the 1990s.

His main area of interest was politics.

"I'm interested in the presidential election because they'll be running our country," he said.

Edward brought compact discs and a Nintendo video game system as artifacts of the '90s. But, he said, the technology he is most grateful for is the computer.

"It's much easier for schoolwork because you can get all this information off the Internet," he said.

Fifth-grader Olivia Bobrowski dressed as a hippie, wearing a peasant blouse, bell-bottom jeans, granny glasses and love beads.

She focused her research on the impact of the Beatles on pop culture in the 1960s.

Representing the early part of the century were 10-year-olds Tyler Crosby and Brittany Dunbar.

Tyler dressed as a newsboy from 1910 in black woolen cap, vest and argyle socks. A canvas newspaper bag was draped over one shoulder.

Brittany wore a floor-length, high-collared dress from the early 1900s that was once owned by her great-grandmother.

She borrowed a tea kettle, potato masher and hats of the period from family members to use as artifacts in her display.

Would she have preferred to live in 1900, if that were possible, rather than today?

"Definitely today," Brittany replied. "I couldn't wear all these hot dresses every day."


Three Howard Community College cable TV producers/directors were honored in the Communicator Awards' 1999 video competition.

The Communicator Awards is a national program that recognizes outstanding work in the communications field. This year, 3,275 entries from 49 states and seven countries were submitted.

Cheryl Magill, Margaret Kahlor and Karen D. Hinds received Awards of Distinction for their programming. HCC TV runs on Channel 71.

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