Roosevelt and Custer
Gen. George Custer, played by Nick Botyan, 10, and Teddy Roosevelt, aka Logan Chan, 9, talk about their lives during a class presentation Tuesday at McKinley Avenue School in Stafford Township.

STAFFORD TOWNSHIP - Theodore Roosevelt stood next to a poster board Tuesday in Diana Adanatzian's class and talked about the life of an American icon.

"I like horseback riding, my nickname was Teddy, I got married to a second wife and I had six kids," said Roosevelt, whose mustache fell off at times to reveal Rachel Montesano, 10, who was impersonating the president for her class project.

Inspired by two of the most popular movies in her students' class - Ben Stiller's "Night at the Museum" and its sequel released last year - Adanatzian had her fourth-grade class dress up as historical figures from the movies and make presentations on their lives.

The class is studying the biography genre, and the event also fits nicely with the social studies curriculum.

"At this grade level, they might not know the significance of some of the characters," she said in between taking videos Tuesday, explaining that they had heard of Amelia Earhart but not the Roman general and ruler Octavius.

She said this as Abraham Lincoln walked by, his top hat held together by scotch tape, and an Egyptian pharaoh opened a wooden tomb to reveal golden Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Meanwhile, one of the movies played on a TV on the wall, and music from the soundtrack played through an iPod dock.

The small room was packed with parents, who came to see the costumes many helped their children make and listen to them talk about their characters' lives.

Octavius, better known as Joseph Trovato, 9, read from a cue card while his mother, Laurie, filmed him, his sword dangling by his Ugg boots.

"I was nice and did not let the power go to my head," Trovato read, a snipe at some of the Roman dictators who came before and after him.

Nearby, Sacagawea chatted with Lincoln and Jedediah Smith, who were played by Mizuo Peck, Hank Azaria and Owen Wilson, respectively, in the latest movie.

In front of them, another Roosevelt impersonator stood next to a Gen. George Armstrong Custer lookalike, both of who carefully made sure their mustaches stayed in place as they talked about their lives.

Custer, played by Nick Botyan, 10, pointed his tinfoil sword at a map showing the events at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

"As you can see, everyone's dying," he explained nonchalantly.

Logan Chan, 9, stood next to him and talked about his life as Roosevelt, and about whether he and Custer got along with each other.

"We're definitely friends," Roosevelt said, giving Custer a hug, even though the president was only 17 when the general made his last stand.

Not everyone from the series of movies was on the list of choices Adanatzian made available to her students. There was also Albert Einstein, Napolean Bonaparte III, Attila the Hun and Christopher Columbus, but no Al Capone.

"I tried to make sure they were all age-appropriate," she said, "so that meant a lot of research on my part."

Contact Lee Procida:


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