To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, MMFS middle and upper school students participated in a national “Learn the Address” contest with other LD schools this spring. The contest was launched by the Greenwood School, a small boarding school for young men with learning disabilities in Putney, Vermont. Each year Greenwood’s students are challenged to memorize and recite the address before a large audience as a way to build confidence, courage, and character. The Greenwood School and its students’ efforts to learn the speech were recently profiled in Ken Burns’ new documentary, The Address.
The competition began with a number of local contests across the country, the winners of which moved on to the national competition in Putney. Mary McDowell’s local, in-house competition took place in early March. Three outside judges were invited to a choose winners from the middle and upper school. Vying for the middle school prize were Erik Walter, Henry Belman, Will Gray, Scott Robbins, Augie Benn, Aemilia Mann, Milo Penning, Feiyan O’ Rourke, and Ona Cathcart-Smith. Caitlin Gallagher, Jill Smida-Wood, Kate Sinsheimer, Tess Lichtman, Linus Jakobson, Lucien Christie-Dervaux, Yemane Charles, and Malik Fleary competed in the upper school. Although all the students were terrific, only two winners emerged: Henry Belman from the middle school and Linus Jakobson from the upper school.
Henry, Linus, their families, and two school representatives—Suzanne Leake and Rebecca Pryor—then headed to Putney to compete in the national competition. The judges included a contributing editor for the New York Times, the executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and a U.S. District Court Judge for Vermont. Twenty-one students recited the address for an audience of 250 people. Neither Henry nor Linus won, but their courage was inspiring. Both volunteered to go first for their division and both recited the address with passion, confidence, and grace.
We’re so proud of the MMFS students who participated in the local and national competitions. They’re all winners to us!!!