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The past comes alive at McParland during annual Living History Day
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From left, Marissa Romero (astronaut Christa McAuliffe), Angelo Cerbini (Julius Caesar), and Kayla Lamont (singer Selena) enjoy a little down time at Tuesday’s Living History Day at McParland School. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Vince Lopez managed to stay in character at Living History Day at McParland School.

On Tuesday, the eighth-grade student was rock music pioneer Ritchie Valen, who, at 17, died tragically in a plane crash some 50 years ago.

“I was a genius when I wrote (the song) ‘Donna,’” Lopez said.

All told, 124 students at the school were involved in the exercise fulfilling the writing assessment necessary for eighth-grade promotion.

“Living History is a major research project,” said teacher Ken Johnson. “Students were required to read an autobiography or biography on a selected figure from history and then bring the character to life (on Living History Day).”
Anthony Melena, for one, went to costume store in Stockton, purchasing a white wig and mustache in order to look like Mark Twain.

On the other hand, Nicole Davis didn’t do too much work to resemble Sammy Davis Jr. Instead, she tried to capture the fighting spirit of the legendary entertainer.

Sammy Davis Jr. was a World War II veteran who spent his life battling racial discrimination.
“I especially enjoyed his quote: ‘My talent was the weapon, the power, the way for me to fight,’” Nicole Davis added.

Marissa Romero, meanwhile, came to school wearing a NASA jump suit. She was fascinated with the life of the late Challenger shuttle astronaut Christa McAuliffe.

“She really had a positive outlook on life,” Romero said. “Her reason for going into space was so she could inform the youth of America.”

In addition, each student was required to write a three-to-five minute speech detailing the highlights of their chosen character’s life, produce a poster, and create business cards for their subject.

 Throughout the day, they shared information about their character to the other students of the school by visiting the various classrooms.

“This usually provides our younger kids with ideas on what they might want to do when their time comes up for Living History,” Johnson said.