Quantico VA | March 20, 2012
“Although I had no interest in politics, the Whig party nominated me and I was elected,” President Zachary Taylor, played by second-grader Souvenah, told the students at Ashurst Elementary School on Friday afternoon.
Kadi‘s President Harry Truman felt similarly. “I did not have much desire to be president, but Franklin Roosevelt died and I was sworn in,” he said.
“I enjoyed being chief justice much more than being president,” admitted Xavier’s William Howard Taft.
For many years, the students of second-grade teacher Joyce Hall’s class have each chosen a president to research and then speak about, in full costume and in the first person. The presentation, given before all the school’s students except the pre-kindergarteners, was this group’s second, coming on the heels of a presentation for the class’s parents the previous Friday.
"They just love doing this,” Hall said after the presentation. “If you get them interested in a project, they’ll work hard and do a good job.”
The students had put together PowerPoint presentations to accompany their talks, and copies of them hung in the school’s hallways.
In addition to some presidents’ apparent lack of enthusiasm for their work, a number of other little-known trivia emerged from the presentations. For example, when the U.S. Capitol moved from Philadelphia to D.C., John Adams became the first president to live in the White House. John Tyler had 15 children, Theodore Roosevelt’s interest in athletics stemmed from his childhood asthma, and John F. Kennedy’s father gave him a present of $1 million for his 21st birthday.
“I was the shortest president, but I got many things done,” said Sylvester, as James Madison. Madison was only 5 feet and 4 inches tall, making him shorter than Joe Pesci or Elijah Wood.
This was Hall’s last presidential celebration, as she is retiring this year after teaching on the base for 35 years, the last 33 of them at Ashurst. However, she said the school’s other second-grade class is putting on a similar show this year and may carry on the tradition next year.