Meet the mini Teddy Roosevelt |

Meet the mini Teddy Roosevelt

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyVail Academy third grader Wyatt Borah dresses up like Thomas Jefferson Wednesday during a living wax museum project.

EAGLE-VAIL ” Meet Abraham Lincoln, the small version.

He’s not the tall, lanky fellow with a weary smile as seen in the history books. Here, in Deb Croff’s third grade classroom at the Vail Academy, he’s short and relatively smooth faced. He stands still like a wax statue, but when you press a big red button on the wall, he comes to life and spins a yarn like you’d expect from our 16th president.

He talks about the civil war, slaves, signing the Emancipation Proclamation, and when he’s through with his speech ” a brief history lesson as opposed to the Gettysburg Address ” he stands still again. Kids from other classrooms walk by and listen as if viewing an interactive exhibit at the Smithsonian.

“Even if he didn’t succeed, he tried until he got it,” said Kelby Denissen, the fake-bearded third grade actor mimicking Lincoln.

That’s why he should be admired, Denissen said.

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A few steps away you’ll see Pocahontas, who famously married Captain John Smith, an Englishman in the Jamestown settlement. Here, she’s on a bended knee with a flower in her hand. At the press of a button, she springs up and speaks of how she tried to make peace between Native Americans and the English and traded food and supplies to help them survive.

In another corner, you’ll meet Noah Webster, the father of the American dictionary who shaped how we spell and pronounce words. Martin Luther King Jr., dressed in a white shirt and tie, speaks of how he led the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Thomas Jefferson, clad in high white socks and a traditional black hat, will tell you how he was once a shy boy who eventually wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Teddy Roosevelt, wearing leather chaps, holding a plastic rifle and smeared with orange marker in the shape of a burly mustache, talks about he was an adventurer who loved hunting in Glenwood Springs

“During my presidency I built the Panama Canal and I negotiated peace between Russia and Japan, which I later won the Nobel Peace prize for,” Roosevelt ” well, Anthony Chirichillo said.

Helen Keller held a small puppy dog and told the museum guests how she overcame deafness and blindness, learned to communicate and traveled the world. Clara Barton wore a homely black dress and told visitors how she organized the Red Cross.

Croff had earlier dressed up like pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder for the children in her class. Today, she was simply the “museum curator.”

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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