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Cottonwood second-graders bring past presidents to life

Cottonwood Elementary School second-grader Caleb Lizon, playing the part of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, tells visitors about himself during the school’s presidential wax museum presentation. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Cottonwood Elementary School second-grader Caleb Lizon, playing the part of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, tells visitors about himself during the school’s presidential wax museum presentation.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Cottonwood Elementary School second-grader Caleb Lizon couldn’t wait for Wednesday afternoon to arrive and recess had nothing to do with his excitement.

Instead, it was the opportunity to portray his favorite president, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, as part of LuAnn Rosendale’s class’ presidential wax museum in the school’s multipurpose room.

“I wanted to be him because he was in ‘Night at the Museum,’” Lizon said, referring to the movie starring Robin Williams as Roosevelt in his Roughrider attire as Ben Stiller portrays a museum night watchman. “He also helped a lot of people.”

When asked what the best part of the project was, Lizon quickly replied, “practicing my speech.”

To Lizon’s right was Cody Cantaaes, who was portraying William Taft, who served after Roosevelt. Cantaaes said Taft was a good person who did good things, but had some slight difficulties.

“Once he got stuck in a bathtub,” Cantaaes said, demonstrating his in-depth knowledge of the nation’s 27th president.

Second-grader Max Arneson was happy he was able to portray his favorite president, Andrew Jackson, who was the nation’s seventh commander-in-chief.

“He was a good person and he helped a lot of people,” Arneson said. “He also wore a red coat all the time.”

Among the lesser known facts about Jackson was that he not only escaped an assassination attempt, but he chased the perpetrator down and beat him with his cane, Arneson said during his speech.

William Henry Harrison, the ninth president and first to die in office, caught the attention of Jenna Munkres, who decided to portray him for the museum.

Although Harrison died from pneumonia after only one month in office, Munkres said he was a good person and she enjoyed being the ninth president.

As Rosendale surveyed the crowded room with parents, grandparents, other students and even Central Kitsap School District Superintendent Greg Lynch, she was proud of what all her students accomplished.

“We’ve spent the past month and a half learning about the presidents,” she said, noting the two most highly sought after presidents weren’t the obvious picks of President Barack Obama or President Abraham Lincoln.

“One student absolutely had to be Teddy Roosevelt and another really wanted to be Grover Cleveland,” she said, adding that the Baby Ruth candy bar, which was named for Cleveland’s daughter, facilitated that choice.

For the most part, each student got their choice of which president they portrayed, but when it came to the lesser known presidents like Martin Van Buren and Calvin Coolidge, students got to pick out of a hat, she said.

After going through the majority of the 44 presidents on display, Lynch said he was simply amazed at how much the students knew about their presidents.

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