History on display

Living Wax Museum comes to NEH?Elementary

Northeast Hamilton fifth graders Brianna Wallen and Harper Range practice their presentations for the upcoming Living Wax Museum on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Blairsburg elementary school. The students researched a historical figure and will recite a short biographical story before returning to statue mode.

BLAIRSBURG — London, St. Louis, Las Vegas and Hollywood may boast the world’s most famous wax museums, but the Northeast Hamilton Elementary School Fourth – Sixth Grade students will present their own version at the NEH Living Wax Museum on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m.

For many years, NEH teacher Laura Seiser had wanted to create a living wax museum but realized that it would be beyond the abilities of her younger students.  Yet, the idea remained with her.

“I have been wanting to do this project for over ten years,” confessed Seiser, who now teaches Fourth – Sixth Grade Reading and Title I.  “But since I was teaching second grade for so long, I knew it would be a very hard task for the younger kids to tackle. When I moved to fourth and sixth grade reading three years ago, this idea kept resurfacing in my mind and this year I thought, ‘Why not? We’re doing it.” 

When she suggested the project last fall, the students were immediately on board, said Seiser. With a January performance date set, they selected their historical figure and spent their December holiday vacation researching them online and in the library, said Seiser.

“Some of their parents have ordered specific books from Amazon to assist in their child’s research as well,” she said.

The wax museum combines both reading/language arts and Social Studies, said Seiser. Not only do students study their character from a historical perspective, but they have had to do the research on the person’s life and their impact on society and American culture.  In addition, the students wrote short biographical speeches which they will perform as the character during the event, she said.

“More than anything, I wanted them to choose someone they were passionate about so this could have a lot of meaning for them personally,” said Seiser. “I was blown away by the wide range of people these kids came up with”.

For costumes and props, Seiser told students to look at home, ask their neighbors or scour grandma’s attic.

“I did not want this to be any sort of financial burden for any of the students,” explained Seiser, who is amazed at the creativity of the students.

When Shiloh Betts decided to present Amelia Earhart, she and another student transformed a school desk into an airplane so Shiloh will give her speech from the cockpit of Earhart’s airplane, explained Seiser.

“It has been a blast to listen to the students brainstorm costume designs and bounce ideas off one another,” admitted Seiser. “Countless times I have heard someone shout, ‘Hey! You could do this…’ or ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you did that.’ Their enthusiasm and work ethic has surpassed anything I could have imagined.”

Each student has created a personal stage constructed of a tri-fold poster which displays biographical information about their historical figure, said Seiser. They also have developed the audible presentation which will be the most entertaining part of the wax museum.

When guests visit the school, students will be stationed at their post, frozen in action. When visitors press a button, the students come to life and give a short biographical speech of their character.

They have written, memorized and recited their speeches with each other so often that they claim to know as much about each other’s character as they do their own, said Seiser.

“Little do they know that was my whole goal,” she confessed.

“I absolutely can’t wait to see it all for myself,” said Seiser. “These kids have been amazing and I think all the visitors will be blown away by their hard work and creativity.”