They were thinkin’ Lincoln!
Fourth-graders from Brooklyn Heights’ Packer Collegiate Institute dressed in beards, stovepipe hats, and ill-fitting suits trekked to the distant island of Manhattan on Monday to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s 208th birthday. The young Rail Splitters recited the president’s famed Gettysburg Address and answered questions from curious passersby, which their teacher say was educational for all involved.
“In telling others about Lincoln, my students understand Lincoln better themselves,” said educator Tim Jensen, whose fourth-grade social studies classes have been performing such full-costume public readings since 2009.
Previous classes have performed inside the majestic central hall at Grand Central Station, but on Monday this year’s crop appeared at the new Oculus mall, where Jensen says it was easier to obtain permission for the performance.
Each of the 22 doppelgangers recited a small portion of the address, followed in turn by another classmate, and then another, until they’d recited the entire iconic Civil War-era speech before an audience around 100 commuters who stopped to listen.
The young Lincolns — all aged 9 or 10 — followed up their speech by holding up small signs that read, “Hello, it’s my birthday, ask me any question.”
Some of the queries that came from the audience included, “How tall are you?” “How many sons did you have?” and “When were you killed?” to which they answered 6-foot-4, four, and April 15, 1865, respectively.
The kids say the exercise really helped them memorize facts about Honest Abe.
“Doing ‘Tiny Lincolns,’ you’re not just sitting and learning it, because if you just sit and learn, you forget it,” said one student. “But if you learn and dress up and tell people about it, it’s more fun that way. You’ll remember it more.”
And even the cosutmes helped, said another.
“If we were just in our normal clothes, it wouldn’t be ‘the part,’ it wouldn’t be Lincoln,” said the pupil.