The history, pageantry and power of the U.S. presidency was on display last week at St. Gregory's School in Maryville, where a group of fifth-graders from Jenni Halley's social studies class portrayed their favorite chief executives, first ladies and, in one instance, first daughter.
The annual living history lesson brought such figures to life as Abraham Lincoln (Nic Garner), Ronald Reagan (Owen Graham) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (Emily Long).
There was even a member of the first "first" family present in the person of Caitlyn Burke, who was dressed as Martha Washington in a long pink dress and white, ruffled cap.
The presidential child was Margaret Truman Daniel (Kenzie Martin), daughter of Missouri's own Harry and Bess Truman, who lived in the White House from 1945 through 1952.
Kenzie said she became interested in Truman Daniel after visiting the president's home — now a museum — in Independence.
"I knew some facts about her, and then I read some book about her," Kenzie said of Harry and Bess Truman's only child, who went on to have a career as a singer as well as an author who wrote memoirs, history and detective fiction. "I just found her interesting."
Sporting a conservative sports jacket and dark dress slacks, Owen Graham mimicked the combination of executive authority and relaxed Hollywood glamour that came to be President Reagan's trademark during the 1980s.
Owen said Reagan — nicknamed "the Gipper" and "Dutch" — is his favorite president, and cited his role in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union. In preparing to impersonate the 40th president, he also researched Reagan's acting career, which included appearances in more than 50 feature films.
"I like learning about history," Owen said.
Fifth-grader Addison Hall wore a black, formal, sleeveless dress while playing the part of Mamie Eisenhower, wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose pearl choker and bangs fueled fashion trends in the 1950s.
"I just liked how she looked and thought she would be somebody fun to do," said Addison, who had her hair put up in Mamie-style twin buns. "I liked her hair and how the people then wore fancier outfits."
Halley's students spent several weeks studying the presidency before making their portrayals. Each created a poster that included a drawing of the president, first lady or family member he or she was to impersonate, then gave a brief biographical presentation to groups of parents, grandparents and younger classmates.