Every February, Greenwood students 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.
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.
Ken Burns’ 2014 documentary, "The Address," features a sensitive look at Greenwood students as they prepare and perform The Gettysburg Address at our annual gathering. This 90-minute film commemorated the 150-year anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s historic speech, while recognizing our students.
Inspired by the Ken Burn's documentary The Address, more schools across the country have adopted the Greenwood tradition of having their students memorize, recite and compete for excellence in delivering the speech. For four years, participating schools serving students with learning differences, sent their local winners to compete on a national level as well.
In 2016, we were honored and proud of Hector, The Greenwood School Sophomore from Dominican Republic, who earned First Place in the former "Learn the Address Competition." It was an especially stunning accomplishment for a young man who speaks English as a second language.
In a prior year, Greenwood's High School & Middle School 1st place winners, traveled to Washington to participate in the 4th national "Learn The Address" competition.