Living Museum 2023

Oak Grove third graders exhibit their research, acting skills
Posted on 04/25/2023
Davis Bader

Oak Grove Elementary hosted its annual Famous Missourians Living Museum on Friday, April 21, featuring athletes, authors, aviators, entertainers, explorers, inventors, war heroes and other trailblazers with ties to the Show-Me State.

“It’s their first research project ever, in third grade – and it’s quite extensive,” third grade teacher Ashley Blume said. “We get a lot of grades out of this one project.”

Students select a notable figure from a running list, conduct research, create a poster board explaining key facts, and finally dress up as the individual to reveal to the public who they are portraying, Blume and co-organizer Christine Walker explained. Blume noted that it is her “favorite day” of teaching – an assignment that begins around the start of the calendar year.

First-year principal, Kristie Robinson, can remember inheriting the project when she started as a fourth grade teacher at Oak Grove in 2009. When she transferred to the third grade classroom after several years, the project followed her since teaching state history shifted a grade level under the Missouri Learning Standards, she noted.

Judy Cox, grandmother of Rose Wallace, who depicted architect Nelle Peters, said she could recall that the precursor to the project was the Missouri book assignment in which students displayed their state geography knowledge. A retired office manager with the Butler County Community Resource Council, Cox believes the Living Museum project started around the 2006/07 school year, based on the ages of her grandchildren who attended the elementary school.

Third grader Iris Genna, who embodied Phoebe Couzins, one of the first female lawyers in the United States, said she counted seven adults and 18 young people to whom she delivered her speech. Iris chose Couzins because the student thinks she may want to become an attorney or a marshal when she grows up. “She also wears dresses, and I love dresses,” Iris pointed out.

Classmate Mia Crain selected sculpturist Vinnie Ream, most known for creating the memorial statue of Pres. Abraham Lincoln in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. Mia said she checked out a book from the school library entitled “Vinnie and Abraham,” and took interest, as art is her favorite subject. She pointed out how Lincoln was assassinated before seeing the finished product. “She got deeply affected,” Mia said of her subject.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to grow and be in front of people,” said retired Neelyville Superintendent Debbie Parish, who was there to see her granddaughter Layton Beaird play cartoonist Rose O’Neill. “I commend the administration and teachers for going the extra mile.”


Cutline: Davis Bader of Kaisha Pigg’s class portrays U.S. Army Gen. John J. Pershing, the namesake of the Poplar Bluff VA medical center.

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