Living wax museum

NEH?students bring history to life

Teresa Wood Clothed in a simple dress emblazoned with the Star of David, Kaylee Kohl spoke of the short life of Anne Frank a young Jewish girl who hide with her family in an attic in Amsterdam during World War II. Discovered by the Germans, all the family was sent to concentration camps. Only her father survived the war and published Anne's writings as "The Diary of a Young Girl,”

BLAIRSBURG – History came alive last Thursday night when the Northeast Hamilton Fourth-Sixth Grade students presented their Living Wax Museum.

The event was the brainchild of Fourth-Sixth Grade Reading and Title I teacher Laura Seiser, who had envisioned the idea many years ago. Last fall she decided to introduce the idea to her students.

The students immediately embraced the idea, so throughout the fall and into Christmas chose a person they admired and developed their presentations.

“More than anything, I wanted them to choose someone they were passionate about so this could have meaning for them personally,” said Seiser.

After students researched their character, they constructed a tri-fold poster which illustrated the timeline and achievements of that person’s life. Then they wrote a short biography of their subject which they performed during the event.

In early January, the students began to put the finishing touches on their work by creating a costume that reflected the era and the profession of their subject. Earlier this month, they practiced their speeches with each other until they could recite them spontaneously.

Subjects ranged from political figures, inventors, sports greats, industrial giants, artists and cultural pioneers. Student performances featured Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo daVinci, Susan B. Anthony, Queen Elizabeth, Pocahontas, John Deere, Henry Ford, Clara Barton, Haririet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.

Jay Wiese lit the darkness as inventor Thomas Edison and Sylvia Otteros defiantly remained seated on her bus seat as Rosa Parks.

Brock Zorn had the moves of Elvis Presley and Alivia Wahlert was mod as singer and Oscar winner Cher. Aubrie Harris as Oprah Winfrey drew in a crowd by promising, “You get a car and you get a car!”

Sports legends included Muhammed Ali, Walter Payton, Evel Knievel and Colin Kaepernick. Explorers, pioneers and adventurers were also featured. Lovie Pruismann was heading to the moon as Neil Armstrong and Magdalen Heiden portrayed Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Shiloh Betts sat in the cockpit of her plane as Amelia Earhart.

Some students chose people whose names are not as familiar, but have made an impact on people worldwide such as physicist Percy Spencer, the inventor of the microwave, portrayed by Kinley Massman. Conor Campbell spoke of video game designer and the general manager of Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto.

The living wax museum incorporated several educational disciplines into an entertaining event, Seiser explained. Besides encouraging students to read and do independent research, they incorporated writing, art, Social Studies and analytical thinking into the project. In addition, students were required to develop the information into a speech which they performed several times during the evening.

Stationed along the hallways of the school, students stood frozen until a visitor pushed a button to activate their speech. Over 150 visitors came out on a frigid night to tour the museum and view the displays.

“I myself couldn’t stop smiling thinking about how great it was for our students to gain confidence in their ability to do public speaking,” said NEH Supt Mike Kruger. “It was a positive experience that will hopefully make it easier to do in the future.”

Teacher Laura Seiser was overwhelmed by how well the students performed.

“It has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams,” said Seiser, noting visitors’ comments about the students’ presentations and their composure. “This has just been unreal.”