Gettysburg - Learn the Address 2021
Traditionally, every February, students at The Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, take to the stage, one after the other, to recite the historic Gettysburg Address before an audience of faculty, family and judges from around the world. First, Second and Third place ribbons are awarded to winners for orating excellence. It’s an annual Greenwood tradition documented in Ken Burns' film "The Address." Once a student has fulfilled the requirement to memorize and recite The Gettysburg Address, he is welcome to memorize an alternative speech or poem in a subsequent school year. In 2021, due to COVID-19 safety measures, the program was virtual and livestreamed from the historic Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro. Learning Abraham Lincoln’s inspiring 1863 call for freedom and equality does not happen in days or weeks. It’s a longer process, where teachers work with students individually, teasing apart every word for context, significance, and finally, for memorization. Despite sitting through many young students delivering The Gettysburg Address every year, it never gets tiresome. Emotions run high as the audience anticipates success for each student stepping up to the podium. Speeches start with anxious silence and close with relief, applause and tears. It’s a monumental accomplishment for anyone, let alone those who have struggled with language based learning differences. Participating in Greenwood’s annual event is a milestone for both students and their families.