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GUILDERLAND: Living history

Instead of the traditional end-of-the-year English and social studies exams taken by most 11th graders in the Capital District, students in the 11X course at Guilderland High School were given the opportunity to act out what they've learned.

There were no bubble sheets, pens or pencils in the gym for this final; instead, a living museum was set up Thursday, May 31, with more than 45 exhibits featuring students dressed up and portraying historical figures they had researched for months.

The 11X living museum, which is in its second year, was held last year in the classroom after school, but it was so successful that Erin McNamara, who teaches the English portion of the course, decided to showcase the one-day event in the gym during two separate sessions, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, that both students and parents can attend.

"What the kids were doing was so elaborate and wonderful, we felt it should be shared with others," said McNamara.

The 11X course combines English and U.S. history studies, and only a select number of students can participate each year. The course centers on the cooperative discovery of significant historical figures through reading historical literature. Toward the end of the class, students are asked to choose a person, research him or her extensively, and embody that person in front of a live audience.

"This is a unique way for them to research that person and really get into character and express the views of the people that they're studying," said Michael Kinnally, who teaches 11X history.

Sam Trimboli, an 11X student who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr., said he agrees with Kinnally.

"I was nervous at first, but once I got going, I actually felt like I was him," Trimboli said. "We all learn about these people throughout the years, but we pretty much just skim the surface. I thought I knew a lot about Martin Luther King Jr. before I started this, but I found out so much more."

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