February 15th – Happy Birthday Harold D. Langley

51l0qs7C7cL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_With all the uproar about “Common Core” and increasing standards in our public schools, I found it very interesting when researching the past of today’s Amsterdam Birthday celebrant to learn that students who attended both public and parochial schools in this city back in the late 1930’s and 40’s did not just study math, literature, science and history, they were also required to display their knowledge of it in very public ways.

In 1936, today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant took part in regularly scheduled rhetoricals as a student at St. Mary’s Institute. In addition to singing a song and reciting poetry, each class was expected to put on a skit that displayed their knowledge of an academic unit they were studying. In October of that year for example, Harold D. Langley and his sixth grade SMI classmates presented a short historical vignette called “Discovering America.” In May of 1943, with WWII raging Langley, by then a senior at St. Mary’s, participated in the annual Amsterdam Prize Speaking and Prize Debate City Championships. His three-person team was assigned to argue against the formation of a post war world governing association. The article did not mention who won that night’s debate but as we know now, the United Nations did get formed after the war and as you’ll learn below, those boyhood opportunities to display his knowledge of history certainly had no detrimental impact on the future career choice of this young man…

You can read the rest of this story in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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