CAMBRIDGE—Cambridge Elementary School children, along with all of the other children in the state of Illinois, recited the Gettysburg Address at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 12. The mass reading — called the Four Score and Seven Project — attempted to set a new Guinness World Record for the most people reading aloud simultaneously (current record: 223,363 participants).


 Cambridge Elementary School children, along with all of the other children in the state of Illinois, recited the Gettysburg Address at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 12.

 The mass reading — called the Four Score and Seven Project — attempted to set a new Guinness World Record for the most people reading aloud simultaneously (current record: 223,363 participants).

 Following the address, second grade students sang a song entitled “Abraham” and then all of the students and staff sang Happy Birthday Abe. Superintendent Thomas “Tom” Akers, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, read a couple of books and some letters students submitted to him on whether it was a good idea for him to grow a beard in observance of Lincoln’s 200th birthday.

 The count was in and with 136 students out of 205 students voting, Akers will grow a beard. Akers agreed to the challenge after making a challenge of his own. 

 “I want every third through sixth grader here today to agree that they will do their very best possible on the ISAT testing at the beginning of March,” he stated. “If you do that, I will grow a beard and at the end of testing, third through sixth grade students along with my children, will attend a special assembly where some of the students will have the special opportunity to cut my beard and shave my face.”

 Akers also encouraged other male teachers at the Elementary School to participate in the beard growing contest.

 He thanked the students for the wonderful letters they wrote on whether or not he should grow a beard. Some of the letters are reprinted below, starting with his favorite letter of all by Kaylen Stromquist.

 “I think Mr. Akers shouldn’t grow a beard because it might make him look older. He might look like the age of 40. When he actually looks like 33 right now. Sometimes people think that growing beards are unnecessary. Right now I think in this situation, it is unnecessary.”

Dear Mr. Akers,
 I think that you shouldn’t grow a beard like Mr. Lincoln. I think this because you look very nice without one. If you grow one you will have to use more shampoo, your food could get stuck in your beard and when you swim your beard will be heavy.
Hunter Nelson

Dear Mr. Akers,
 I think you should grow a beard like Mr. Lincoln. I think this because Lincoln is the same height as you and you kind of look a like. Mr. Lincoln was a very good president and it would be cool to have someone that looks like him around.
Kristofer Lookingbill

Dear Mr. Akers,
 I think you should grow a beard. If you grew it, it would be awesome. Mr. Akers should grow it to honor Abraham Lincoln. He should also try to grow the longest beard ever. It would be the second coolest thing ever to happen to this school behind Mr. B. working here.
Logan Gibbons

Mr. Akers,
 I think you shouldn’t grow a beard. Some people might say you should, but I think it would cover your smile. So please, don’t grow a beard.
Wyatt Kirlin

Mr. Akers,
 Hmmm, beard or no beard? In my opinion, I think that you should definitely grow a beard. I think it would be a great thing to do in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday. Now, Mr. Akers not only would you grow a beard in honor of Lincoln, you can grow one to keep you warm on a cold winter day. But that’s just my opinion. It’s not only up to me, it’s up to the whole school. Can’t wait to see the results.
Allison Meyer

Mr. Akers,
 I want you to grow a beard. One reason why is because the ladies will love it. My other reason why is it will keep you warm when you walk to the other school. My final reason is in the summer the mosquitoes won’t bite you. That is why I think it is a wonderful idea for you to grow a beard.
Olivia Nuckles

Mr. Akers,
 I hear you are thinking about growing a beard. I think that is a terrible idea. One reason why is if you have a camp fire it might catch on fire. Another reason why is your wife might not like it. Finally, you already look good. You should not grow a beard.
Christian Duckwitz

Mr. Akers,
 I think you should grow a beard. I think this because beards look cool. I don’t know if it will look good on you or not though. If you grow one it should be really long. It would look funny. If you grow one out long it has to be like ZZ Top. That would be cool. Or you could braid it and put a bow on the bottom. That would be weird though, but it would be really funny.
Dustin Swanson

Mr. Akers,
 I think you should grow a beard because not that many important people have beards anymore. President Lincoln was important and he had a beard. A beard says that you are important and awesome. Everybody likes people who have beards. If you grow a beard you might even be elected to be mayor.
Max Nuckles

Dear Mr. Akers,
 You should not grow a beard because your little daughter and son might get scared or worried. I as his oldest daughter, would not enjoy my dad with a beard. My sister and I would feel bad when our dad kissed us because it would feel scratchy. I would think he would look funny with a beard.
Hannah Akers