Posts Tagged ‘Cranbury’

A Wax Museum Event in Cranbury, New Jersey

Friday, February 19th, 2016

A Wax Museum Event in Cranbury, New Jersey: Adam’s Moment

Written by, Tony Mussari, Sr.
Photographs by, Tony Mussari Sr.
Edited by, Kitch Loftus Mussari
Copyright, 2016, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

I believe in setting high standards for players, being open and honest with the players and respecting an honest effort. Coach Herb Brooks

Shortly before 7 p.m., we entered the school in Cranbury, New Jersey. Hall_6619The hallways were jammed with parents and friends of the 68 seventh-grade students who would make presentations in the 2016 Wax Museum.

The sense of anticipation was exhilarating. The feeling of accomplishment was apparent to every one of the visitors, as was the commitment of time, energy and effort made by teachers, students and their parents.

The Cranbury School has received national recognition for excellence in the classroom, and this creative approach to living history is an extension of that tradition.

PGM fp

Each of the students was required to pick an historical figure from an approved list of men and women. Some students like Adam MacMillian decided to pick their own individual and convince their teacher of the worthiness of this person’s contribution to history or culture.

Adam chose the legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks.

Wide shotWhen we entered Room 60, we were impressed by the behavior of the students, and the creativity exhibited in their posters and their costumes. One would never expect to find Maya Angelou, John Adams, Larry Page, Eleanor Roosevelt, Glen Miller, Jane Goodall, Gordie Howe, Thomas Edison, Herb Brooks, Mahatma Gandhi and James Beard sitting next to one another in the front of the room.

At the appointed time the presentations began. Each student faced the audience and spoke without notes for about two minutes.

Dressed in a camel hair sports jacket, a blue shirt and tie, AdamSpeaking_6682 MacMillan got everyone’s attention when he stepped forward and blew his whistle. Carrying a clipboard with images of hockey plays, Adam’s opening line was well crafted:

Oh hello there, I’m Herb Brooks, ice hockey player and coach. You may know me as the coach who won gold in the 1980 Olympics. But you should also know me as a coach that changed the game, not just my teams.

He emphasized the importance of Coach Brook’s relationship with his brother Danny and his college hockey coach John Mariucci. Adam told the audience that Herb Brooks worked hard and followed his dream. He maintained high standards for himself and his players, both in the Olympics and in the NHL.


During his disciplined presentation, Adam maintained eye contact with everyone in the room including his parents and his grandfather. They were sitting in the front row.

Adam ended his remarks with this statement:

Well, I have a practice right now, so here is my friend Mahatma Gandhi. He returned to his seat in the front of the room.

During the final two speeches, I took a few pictures, and I thought about the benefits of the Wax Museum experience. It gave the studentsIMG_6696 an opportunity to learn something about critical thinking and the importance of research. It gave them an opportunity to craft a story in words and images. It challenged them to make several presentations in front of different audiences. It compelled them to have the discipline to condense their story into a very tight window. It created an environment which empowered the students to learn how to learn.

Adam’s written presentation was exactly 361 words. He told the story of Herb Brook’s life and his accomplishments in about three minutes. Adam did not use any digital devices during his presentation. It was all about the person, the narrative, the research and the delivery.

In my opinion, the Wax Museum was an extraordinary opportunity for students to learn important skills that will help them during every stage of their development.

In the 1980’s, Carol Malouf, former school administrator, set the bar high for the students in the Cranbury school system when she initiated this unique learning experience that was deeply rooted in historical biography. Almost a generation later, the Wax Museum tradition continues in the Cranbury school system. The students, their parents and their teachers continue to respond in ways that represent American public education at its very best.

As I was leaving the school I noticed artwork on a classroom door that defined American education and our country at its very best.

In our classroom we…The door
respect each other

are ready to learn

are responsible

try our best

use manners

ask questions

work hard

learn from mistakes


support each other

never give up

We are family

Thank You Chivon and Doug, for inviting us to attend this wonderful event.

Thank you to the 68 students for your thoughtful and informative presentations.

Thank you Adam for remembering the legacy of Coach Herb Brooks and presenting it in a very effective way.

Thank you Elizabeth Grimaldi for the time, effort and energy you invested in organizing this extraordinary learning experience.

Thank you to the faculty and staff of the Cranbury School. You give special meaning to the words of Marva Collins:

Once children learn how to learn, nothing is going to narrow their mind. The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.

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