Fifth-grade girls at Oak Hills Elementary School are stepping into costumes this week to play the parts of notable women in history.
On Wednesday, the students pulled on blue coveralls, toted around pictures of outer space and gave presentations from the perspective of Sally Ride, the nation's first woman astronaut.
"She was really interesting," Melissa Feldman said after performing her fourth monologue of the day. "She got to float around in space and jump on the walls and stuff."
For the last eight weeks, Melissa and about 30 other fifth-grade girls have voluntarily spent their lunch period reading about the lives of important women, including Olympic gold medalist Wilma Ruldolph and writer/illustrator Beatrix Potter, in honor of National Women's History Month.
Other female-focused events have occurred this month at schools and bookstores around the county.
Teacher Sandy Hindy, a member of the Thousand Oaks branch of the American Assn. of University Women, brought the idea of first-person female presentations to Oak Hills Elementary School this year for the first time.
It also was Hindy who inspired the association 13 years ago to begin developing a book of monologues appropriate for school presentations. Today, two volumes of "Profiles of Women, Past & Present" have been published and a third is underway.
Hindy came up with creating a book on women's achievements after her 7-year-old daughter, Stacey, broke her arm. At the doctor's office, Stacey told her mom that she could only be a nurse when she grew up, not a doctor. That frustrating moment is what moved Hindy to research, write and present a handful of first-person monologues highlighting the lives of women to students at her daughter's elementary school.
One of the women Hindy played was Elizabeth Blackwell, America's first female physician.