Gov. Tom Corbett met with Pine Grove Area Middle School students Wednesday to teach them about the important role Pennsylvania played in the Civil War.
Superintendent Brian Uplinger introduced the governor to the students in the high school auditorium.
“So, we got you out of class for a little while, didn’t we?” Corbett said to about 500 students in grades five through eight.
Despite not being in an actual class Wednesday, the students learned about the Civil War and were even given an assignment to write an essay about what makes Pennsylvania important. The essay should be no longer than the Gettysburg Address – about 270 words.
Corbett taught ninth-grade history and civics at Pine Grove during in the 1972-73 school year.
He is planning to visit various schools as his schedule permits throughout the year. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, fought July 1 through 3, 1863.
The governor showed the students three short video segments about the Civil War and spoke after each segment. The first segment was an overview of the Civil War, the second was about Gettysburg and the third about the aftereffects of the war and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
“Gettysburg is not far from here – 80 miles. It’s a city, a town the size of Pine Grove,” Corbett said.
He went on to say the Battle of Gettysburg wasn’t planned.
“What happened on that day was an accidental battle,” Corbett said.
Of Lincoln, he said, “Lincoln understood that the war was about many things that others did not. Yes, it was about slavery. It was also about keeping the nation together. We were a new nation. Nobody had ever had a nation like this in the world. It was about the rights of states and the rights of individuals, and it was about the economy of the entire United States.”
The third video talked about the scope of the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.
“More than 7,000 dead soldiers were scattered across the battlefield,” not the mention about 5,000 dead horses, weapons and other equipment, the video stated.
Corbett’s presentation lasted about 37 minutes.
John Mease, 11, a sixth-grade student, said he knew about the Battle of Gettysburg but that he has never been to the battlefield.
The presentation by the governor was informative, he said, and showed “they should be remembered for what they did,” he said of those who fought and died during the Civil War.
“Remembering history is very important,” Corbett said.
Uplinger said the governor’s visit was something students don’t often get to experience and he was thankful for it.
The governor also visited his old classroom in the high school, and he said the auditorium hadn’t changed much since he was there.
He also read a proclamation recognizing the 1,000th win by the varsity Pine Grove girls basketball team. He congratulated the team and posed for a picture.
Coach Chris George said he appreciated the team being recognized by the governor. The team has 10 wins and two losses right now.
“It’s a little surreal, to be honest with you,” he said of the win.