Besser students receive extra coaching for school play

News Photo by Tyler Winowiecki Karen Kron-Dickson, left, instructs third grade students from Amber Loney’s class Wednesday morning. Kron-Dickson along with Molly Zaleski from 4th Wall Theatre are visiting Besser Elementary for the week to practice for the student’s performance on Friday.

ALPENA — Students at Besser Elementary have been practicing their singing, dancing and sign language under the direction of 4th Wall Theatre Company for a performance Friday.

Fourth Wall Theatre Company, which originates from Southwest Michigan, came to Besser Elementary for the week with grants and help from the Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Council for the Arts & Cultural Affairs, Besser Parent Advisory Council and Besser Elementary.

This is the second year the school has hosted a theatre company and it hopes to continue as long as the funding can be found. Principal Eric Cardwell said while third- through fifth-graders are the ones participating, the effects can be felt around the community.

“The response from the students, staff and community has been tremendous,” he said. “The kids enjoy drafting these plays and performing them for their parents.”

Cardwell said because of the large attendance from last year’s performance, this year’s performance will be moved from the auditorium to the gymnasium to accommodate the larger turnout.

Professional actress Karen Kron-Dickson and professional choreographer Molly Zaleski from 4th Wall lead the students in games, singing, dancing and sign language throughout the week.

“We work on sign language, dance and games to engage the students,” Zaleski said. “We are teaching theatre to these students but also look to instill important life lessons through the process.”

Zaleski said the company usually travels to schools around the areas of Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit but was excited for the opportunity to come to Alpena for the week.

Fourth and fifth grade teacher Jennifer Myers, who helped spearhead the project, said theatrics could help the students find untapped talents.

“I am excited for the opportunities for the students to see what is inside of them,” Myers said. “Reaching out and pulling out things the kids didn’t even know was inside of them.”

On Wednesday students from Amber Loney’s third grade class practiced their portion of the performance that included learning the different theatre terminology and practicing their poem, The Giving Tree.

During the week classes have participated in the practice session that will all come together for a Friday performance for parents. The performance will have the different aspects such as singing and dancing with the rendition of poems from Shel Silverstein.

Tyler Winowiecki can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Tyler on Twitter tw_alpenanews.