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From King Tut to Helen Keller to Elvis, students dig up historical tidbits


Alysse Harper did her report on Pakistani girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai. Alysse is wearing a traditional shalwar kameez she bought while visiting Bangladesh with her family

Did you know that Ulysses S. Grant declined an invitation to the same theater performance where President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed? It’s one of Alto Elementary fourth-grader Miley Stormzand’s Top 10 facts about the 18th U.S. president.

Ask classmate Thomas Fryers about Elvis Presley’s famous jet black hair, and he won’t mince words: It was dyed. Not only that, Thomas will tell you that the king of rock ‘n’ roll paid $4 to have his first record made.

And Leah Schwinkendorf’s research revealed that Helen Keller toured Japan in the 1930s and ‘40s, where she promoted U.S.-Japan relations.

Students of Rachel Millhisler and Jennifer Bolhuis shared their research on biographical figures from Elvis Presley to Harriet Tubman, and Neil Armstrong to Malala Yousafzai.

Thomas Fryers chose to research Elvis Presley because “I just didn’t know a lot about him”

The project was focused on the fourth-grade language arts curriculum, where students learn how to research and decide which facts are most important, as well as the text structure of chronological order. They use that  information to fill in tree maps and timelines, then build a Top 10 list to present to the class, which illustrates how they interpret information and their oral presentation skills.

“It was really impressive, all they have done with writing, reading, art and history to make these projects come alive,” Millhisler said. “I learned things about some of the people I didn’t know before.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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