Trainor stepped into the boots of the screen legend as part of the school’s Wax Museum Night. He and 49 classmates dressed as historical figures and, when prompted, delivered brief monologues about their lives. Trainor enjoys Wayne’s movies with his father and grandfather, but he said this was the first time he really learned about the man, rather than the movie star.
“I knew he was in a lot of westerns, but I didn’t know about his life before he was John Wayne,” Trainor said, breaking character for a moment. “He actually started out with football, and started out with film [roles] after he got hurt in college.”
Young John Wayne was joined by a mix of famous people, including presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and John F. Kennedy; inventors and scientists Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall and Marie Curie; civil rights leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.; and sports stars Mia Hamm, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Cy Young and Hank Aaron.
“Rumble, young man, rumble!” said a young Muhammad Ali, played by Desmond Brown, 10, who chose Ali after seeing footage of his fights.
“I started to wonder, ‘How did he become this good?’ ” Brown said, adding that he was surprised to learn that as a child, Ali would ask friends to throw rocks at him so he could practice dodging blows.
Victoria Robinson, 10, who was Queen Victoria for the evening, spoke approvingly of how someone with her name was also Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
“She’s just having a ball,” said Victoria’s mother, Liliya Robinson of Poolesville. She said her daughter had studied numerous books about the queen to help with her presentation and costume.
The goal of the project is less about students learning the life stories of their subjects than the practice of doing research and reading biographies, said teacher Aileen Dunkleberger. But the students get excited, and the younger grades look forward to the annual project when they get to the fourth grade, she said.
“Reading about things that are real and true is kind of a draw for them,” she said.