Students represent history in Genoa |

Students represent history in Genoa

by Caryn Haller

Authors, inventors, presidents and queens take to the stage June 13 to tell their life stories and answer questions.

Five Young Chautauquans perform their historical characters in Mormon Station Park at 5 p.m. June 13.

“It’s fun, and I love to see how the kids end up doing at the end. It’s amazing. I have learned so much from these kids,” organizer Grace Bower said. “This year I have a second-grader. I never have let a second-grader in, but she’s fabulous.”

Characters this years are Laura Ingalls Wilder, Cleopatra, Theodore Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth I and Benjamin Franklin.

“They are all so good,” Bower said. “These kids are available to go out in the community and perform if people want them.”

This year four out of the five characters have never been performed before.

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“I was happy. It’s no fun doing the same characters over and over again,” Bower said. “I always try to get them to choose somebody interesting that people don’t know a lot about.”

Emily Willis, 11 performs Wilder in her second Chautauqua performance.

“I enjoyed it last year, and I thought Laura Ingalls Wilder would be an interesting character to be,” Emily said. “I have read her books, and what I learned was she had another younger sibling, Frederick, that she didn’t write about.”

Ethan McKinney, 11, portrays president Theodore Roosevelt in his first Chautauqua presentation.

“He’s a lot like me in a lot of ways,” Ethan said. “He won the Nobel Peace Prize, and on a safari hunt in Africa he killed or trapped over 11,000 animals.”

Ethan already has his character for next year picked out – author J.R.R. Tolkien.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You get to recite a lot of stuff in front of an audience, and in my case you make them laugh.”

Bower began the Young Chautauqua program in 1999 as a way to get young people interested in history.

Students from fourth to 12th grade are invited to participate by choosing a deceased historical character, researching them and presenting a reenactment of their lives.

At the end of each performance, the students answer questions about themselves in character and out-of-character.

“If kids like history or drama or English or speech this is a good program for them,” Bower said. “It gets them more used to speaking in public, and they learn the history of the characters.”

The Young Chautauquans’ presentations are free to the public.

For more information call, 782-2555.

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