Students portray their 'truth-teller' at living history program

By Beth A. Birmingham | Feb 13, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Sophia Clayton, aka Sitting Bull, stands in front of her research project. She picked Sitting Bull because she likes learning about Native Americans.

Thomaston — Oceanside Middle School sixth-graders' project on historical "truth-tellers" culminated with a presentation of their findings at Watts Hall Feb. 13.

Teacher Valerie Hilchey said the students had to pick someone who had changed the world for the better, after being inspired by the book "Americans Who Tell The Truth" by Robert Shetterly.

"They have written a persuasive essay and created a display board to showcase their work," Hilchey said.

From Sitting Bull to Mark Twain to Helen Keller to Muhammad Ali, the students were also dressed as their truth-teller and answered questions about the person's life.

Hilchey said the unit kicked off with a field trip to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.

"Students went in small groups to tour the museum with a focus on portraits," she said.

In English language arts classes, students wrote a five-paragraph thesis-driven essay. In social studies, they used their research skills to put together a timeline of their truth-teller’s life. In math, students looked at data from the time period in which their person lived and graphically represented the information.

In science, students gathered and/or created artifacts, physical objects that represent some aspect of their truth-teller’s life.

"All of this hard work culminates in this living museum," Hilchey said of the Feb. 13 displays.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

Austin White-Ortiz studied Bill Gates because he has started a foundation to help with education and health care. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Sami Dunkle poses by her truth-teller project. She learned about Helen Keller. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Brady Maynard dressed the part of his truth-teller -- Mark Twain -- who wrote about the conflict between the North and South. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Araminta Ross said she chose to learn about Harriet Tubman, who saved more than 300 slaves over the course of 10 years. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Logan Meklin learned all there is to know about Muhammad Ali. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Emily Spearin researched Federick Douglass and learned what it was like to be a slave. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Gage Robbins learned his truth-teller -- Abraham Lincoln -- was born in a one-room log cabin. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Sophia Daggett learned how Helen Keller was famous for standing up for others, and learned a little Braille in the process. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Jayden Seavey said she learned Rosa Parks stood up for civil rights and made a difference in the world. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Margaret McCrea | Feb 14, 2018 16:59

Congratulations and KUDOS to Valerie Hilchey and her "truth tellers".  What a fantastic and creative idea.  I'm so sorry I was unaware of the presentation as I would have loved to have seen their displays and heard their individual commentaries on what they learned.  Amazing!

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 13, 2018 15:07

Great pictures. Such excellent reports by the students. Kudos to the teachers who encourage such wonderful reports.

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