Bay Ridge

Move over Trump! Holy Angels students get presidential

February 11, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Students dressed the part when they portrayed several of the U.S. presidents. Photos courtesy of Holy Angels Catholic Academy
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Disney World has a famous Hall of Presidents, where visitors can see life-like models of the nation’s leaders move and talk like real people. But students at Holy Angels Catholic Academy proved that you don’t have to travel to Florida to see the occupants of the White House.

The Bay Ridge school marked the upcoming Presidents Day holiday by hosting a celebration in which eighth grade students portrayed several different U.S. presidents, including the first, George Washington, and the current, Barack Obama.

“It was wonderful,” Principal Rosemarie McGoldrick told the Brooklyn Eagle. “The students did an outstanding job.”

Each student dressed the part (wigs for early leaders like Washington and Jefferson, and suits for more recent presidents like Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama) and recited famous speeches the men delivered to the American public during crucial moments in history.

It was all part of an effort to bring history to life for their fellow students, according to teacher Russell Berry, who came up with the concept. Berry also hand-picked the students he wanted to portray each of the presidents. “I had an idea of who I wanted to play which presidents,” said Berry, who also helped the students memorize their presidential speeches.

The presentation took place on Feb. 5, but several of the eighth graders gamely offered a repeat performance for a reporter who visited the school on Feb. 8.

Mia Sanabria, who portrayed George Washington, delivered the president’s first inaugural address. Stephanie Sanchez (John Adams) delivered a speech on the death of Washington. Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address was spoken by Hannah Savelli. Reina Lazo, playing James Madison, delivered a war message to Congress, specifically the War of 1812. Andrew Jackson, aka Nicholas Cassamassino, delivered his annual message to Congress.

Abraham Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address was delivered by Jason McAndrews. Lawson Batiz, playing Ulysses S. Grant, offered a speech on the State of the Union. Kylie Medrano portrayed Theodore Roosevelt and re-enacted a speech T.R. delivered after he had been shot by a would-be assassin.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous speech following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was brought to life by James Trusso. John F. Kennedy, portrayed by Drew Goodale, spoke about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ruby Manzoor, playing Ronald Reagan, re-enacted the 40th President standing at the Berlin Wall during the Cold War and urging Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!”

Bill Clinton’s farewell address from the Oval Office in January of 2001 was delivered by Lauren Savelli. The speech George W. Bush gave after the U.S. was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, was re-enacted by Brianna Cush. Alexander Rosario portrayed Barack Obama and delivered the victory speech he made the night he won re-election in 2012.

To add to the fun, the Holy Angels presidents performed skits in between their speeches.

At the end of the presentation, all of the students recited the Gettysburg Address.

Holy Angels Catholic Academy, located at 337 74th St., also played host to a special George Washington Museum, a traveling exhibition designed to give students an opportunity to learn more about the life of the Revolutionary War hero and first U.S. president.


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