"We always do something with drama because it is part of the state core curriculum," she said. "I always try to find something challenging for the accelerated class and this couldn't have worked out better. Some were not very enthusiastic at first, but they really took it and ran with it."
The group of girls who took first place wrote a script that caught judges attention with both its title and its choice of narrator.
One of the main speaking parts in the play, titled "Not Just a Hick from Kentucky," belongs to a young version of Lincoln's first son, Robert Todd Lincoln.
"We wanted to tell the story of how he became president, but with people who knew him," Anderson said. "We had seen plays before where there was a narrator and decided to have Robert sitting on a stool helping to tell the story."
McKinney decided to chronicle the many remarkable stages in Lincoln's life. His play, "Honest Abe's Timeline," is based firmly in historical fact.
"It starts off with his experience when he is just a boy and moves away from Kentucky with his parents," he said. "It follows him through time and shows him during times like the Lincoln-Douglas debates."
Finding Lincoln's humanity
In addition to combining history with a chance to hone their writing chops, the assignment also allowed the playwrights to find the humanity in what has become a familiar national tale.
"I really wanted to make Lincoln look like more of a normal person. He really started off as a normal guy before he began doing extraordinary things. It also showed the amount of hard work he put into getting to the presidency," McKinney said.
Anderson said she found a connection between Lincoln's story and recent political events.
"You can see that he came from humble beginnings and so did Barrack Obama," she said.
Before the plays could make it to the stage they were juried by board members at Ragged Edge.
The contest drew around 40 entries from students in four counties.
Susan Turner, a member of Ragged Edge's board of directors, said she was pleasantly surprised by the variety of entries.
"We had some fiction and some purely fact. There were three page scripts and some that were 50 pages. They really ran the gamut," she said.
Turner said, to her knowledge, it is the first time the theater has had such a contest, and it was made possible by a grant to promote arts activities relating to the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth.
A grant also will help pack the seats for one showing of the plays with the peers of the contest winners.
In another fortuitous turn, Wolfe was awarded $800 from Target department stores that will allow all of the students' seventh grade classmates to join them for one of the performances.
"One of our favorite characters is Felicia, a maid, and we can't wait to see how she is portrayed," said Anderson. "We are really just so excited to see what they do with it."
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SO YOU KNOW
Auditions will be held on Saturday for parts in the three winning plays.
The plays will be performed March 19-21.
To purchase tickets, call (859) 734-2389, or visit www.raggededgetheatre.org.