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Local Students Perform At Fords Theatre

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By Cathy Carter

The famous words of America's great leaders now have new meaning to a group of students in Prince George's County.

Tony Clark is a junior at Central High School in Capitol Heights Maryland.

"Before this class I was mumbling when I talked, now I speak up and you can hear me all the way up the hallways," says Clark.

All year the students have been learning the speeches of famous orators like Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The program is a partnership with Ford's Theatre Education Department. Sarah Jencks is the director.

"Ultimately I see this program as a way of engaging young people in democracy because they're beginning to develop their voices, their democratic voices and so often they don't see themselves as participants," says Jencks.

The class has also emphasized using speaking skills to nurture leadership. Kate Conrad is their teacher.

"The transformation I've seen since the beginning of the year is that the students now believe in themselves, they believe in the course, and they believe in the power of oratory," says Conrad.

Students will deliver original speeches and famous works like the Gettysburg address in a program called Oratory in American Culture tonight at Ford's Theatre.

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