Historical Figures Face Off in Sixth-Grade Competition

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In a classroom full of historical figures, who deserves induction into the North Salem Hall of History? Is it Brazilian soccer player Pele, who donated his fortunes to children in poverty? Or the goddess Isis, who taught Egyptians to make bread, pottery, and cloth? Maybe it’s rock star Freddy Mercury, who raised awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Or perhaps the pirate Blackbeard, who was such a fierce warrior that he continues to inspire pop culture and literary characters today?

North Salem Middle School sixth-grade students spent weeks researching historical figures from the Eastern Hemisphere; writing attention-grabbing, persuasive speeches; and practicing public speaking. Students created costumes and props using assembled or handmade clothes and personalized them with an array of paint, 3D-printed shapes, foam, and cardboard.

This annual project is a collaboration between social studies teacher Jim Savarese and English teacher Lynn Colwell, with support from library media specialist Cynthia Sandler, culminating in a highly anticipated event for the entire school.

Last Friday morning, students presented to small groups, giving speeches as their chosen historical figures, while teachers selected finalists. The morning presentations concluded with an impromptu concert by Vilem as Freddy Mercury and Vincent as John Lennon leading their classmates in a foot-stomping performance of “We Will Rock You” and an encore of “We Are the Champions.”

"Watching the students give their speeches is fun and rewarding after all their hard work,” said Colwell. “I am proud of my students for all their efforts; doing research, reading articles and working together to share what they learned."

That afternoon, the entire sixth grade filled the auditorium to watch the finalists' presentations in front of faculty and administration judges.

With great pride, the North Salem Hall of History has selected Vilem as Freddy Mercury for this year’s induction.


Sarah Divi is the Communications Specialist for the North Salem Central School District. This article is part of an ongoing series of stories that showcase student experiences and exemplify the district's mission statement in action.

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