Contest provides learning opportunity

There’s a long standing tradition in a couple of our area’s school districts, and it’s one that we are extremely proud of these days.

Brooke County and Weirton schools, for 49 years, have allowed their sixth-graders to take part in a Gettysburg Address Speech Contest.

Yes, for nearly a half of a century, youngsters have practiced and polished their oratory skills all in an effort to retell one of the greatest speeches every given in American history. And we are sure, along the way, each pupil has learned more than a thing or two about the Civil War, about the 13th Amendment and about one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln.

Besides reciting the speech word for word, each pupil is encouraged to offer snippets of historical background. That’s bits of information each took the time to research and commit to memory, and in the process they begin to understand what our nation was like back in November of 1863, when a bloody war was raging.

Thanks to the teachers and administrators in each school district, these youngsters know that more than 7,500 Union and Confederate soldiers were buried at that hallowed battlefield in Pennsylvania, and so much more.

We laud the Wellsburg American Legion and the Brooke County Commission, too, for their efforts in seeing that the contest comes to fruition yearly. And this year’s event wouldn’t have been possible without the financial assistance of the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club and Eagle Manufacturing.

We congratulate this year’s winners, Andrea Alimario, A.J. Mitchell and Emily Donley, who placed first, second and third, respectively. For their winning efforts, they received cash prizes.

But more importantly, we believe, is the refreshing fact that this kind of “hands-on” learning continues in our school systems – where our children are allowed to use their creativity and combine it with lessons taught in the classrooms. It’s a win-win for all involved.