Local School’s Living Museum Celebrates Famous Georgians 

Valdosta City Councilwoman Viviann Miller-Cody stops to chat with SJCS students representing Ma Rainey and Ray Charles.

Saint John Catholic School (SJCS) students brought Georgia’s history to life as part of a “Living Wax Museum.” The project commemorated the founding of Georgia with seventh- and eighth-grade students representing a who’s who of Georgia’s most famous residents, including Ma Rainey, Jackie Robinson, Ray Charles, John Pemberton, Juliette Gordon Low, and more.

Dressed as famous Georgians, students performed biographic monologues for visitors to learn about their accomplishments and life stories. 

“History is a collection of stories, and by researching the history of one person, students can bring that person’s story to life,” said Pam Rickman, SJCS social studies teacher. “By presenting a Georgian’s life to their peers, parents and the community, students build their self-confidence as well as their public speaking skills.”

SJCS students and local visitors learned about the state’s history and notable personal contributions, including:

Considered the founder of Georgia, James Oglethorpe (1696-1785) was a social reformer and military leader who conceived and implemented his plan to establish the colony of Georgia. On February 12, 1733, after years of planning and two months crossing the Atlantic, Oglethorpe and 114 colonists climbed up a bluff along the Savannah River and founded the colony of Georgia.

John Robert Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama, and later moved to Georgia, where he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1986 until he died on July 17, 2020. An American civil rights leader and politician, he is best known for his chairmanship of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and for heading the march that halted police violence in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

Known as the “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey’s deep-throated voice and mesmerizing stage presence were a big draw, especially in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia, where she made her debut at the historic Springer Opera House. Born Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett on April 26, 1886, her parents were minstrel performers. In 1923, she signed a recording contract with Paramount Records, making her one of the earliest recorded blues musicians. Rainey recorded almost 100 records, with many becoming national hits and part of America’s musical history.

Jack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia, in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers. Raised primarily by his mother, Jackie became the first baseball player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier that segregated the sport for more than 50 years.

Ray Charles was born on September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia, and is credited with pioneering the genre of soul music during the 1950s. Though he became blind at seven, Charles learned to read, write, and arrange music in Braille. Musically inclined, he learned to play the piano, organ, saxophone, clarinet, and trumpet. From gospel to country to blues, Charles was often called the “Father of Soul” and created groundbreaking hits like “Unchain My Heart,” “Hit the Road Jack,” and “Georgia on My Mind.”

  • With more than 1.9 billion servings a day, people have been drinking Coca-Cola since May 8, 1886, thanks to Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist and inventor, who sold the first bottle at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. 
  • In 1912, Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low gathered 18 girls in Savannah to share outdoor activities and educational enrichment. The “Daisy” club grew and became Girl Scouts of the USA, now serving millions of girls worldwide. Even if you’ve never worn the iconic kelly green uniform, you’ve probably enjoyed a few Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, or Do-si-dos. More than one million girls each year sell over 200 million packages of Girl Scout cookies—a fundraiser that brings in more than $800 million.

About Saint John the Evangelist Catholic School

St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, located at 800 Gornto Road in Valdosta, provides Pre-K 2 through eighth-grade students with the highest quality education in a Christian setting. The school offers electives, including Spanish, music, band, art, computers, and religion. In addition, the school provides extracurricular activities like basketball, soccer, volleyball, cross country, reading bowl, and student council. For more information, call the school at (229) 244-2556 or visit sjcsvaldosta.org.



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