Lincoln Students Share #SelfieWithAbe

Abraham Lincoln, aka George Buss, spent the day with Lincoln students for both history lessons and #SelfiesWithAbe.

Abraham Lincoln, aka George Buss, spent the day with Lincoln students for both history lessons and #SelfieWithAbe.

For a guy who turned 206 yesterday Abraham Lincoln looked pretty spry at lunchtime Friday in the student commons at Abraham Lincoln High School. The way he patiently pressed the flesh and posed for selfie after selfie you’d have thought he was running for office. We should be so lucky.

Okay, so it was actually George Buss channeling Honest Abe, but seriously, this guy’s role-playing runs way deeper than the remarkable physical resemblance he bears to America’s 16th and arguably greatest president.

Like Lincoln, Buss hails from Illinois where he’s based as the regional director for AVID. That’s an important part of why School Improvement Leader Kimberly O’Donnell arranged for his appearance.

“Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a global nonprofit organization that operates with one guiding principle: Hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support, and they will rise to the challenge. AVID’s kindergarten through higher education system brings research-based curriculum and strategies to students each day that develop critical thinking, literacy, and math skills across all content areas. AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society,” reads the boilerplate at AVID’s website.

There’s a local chapter at Lincoln High that’s focused on preparing Railsplitter grads from families where college isn’t the norm to be the generation that starts a new tradition.

Hundreds of plastic stovepipe hats and birthday cupcakes were distributed as part of Friday’s festivities and George, er Abe, passed out copies of his handwritten draft of an iconic speech that’s known as the Gettysburg Address. Earlier in the day he treated the students at Lincoln’s RAILS Academy to a recitation of those famous remarks.

The day’s busy itinerary also included classroom visits to stress the importance of continued education and the exercise of informed citizenship by voting and getting otherwise involved in the political process to ensure “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Buss is a veteran interpreter, not an impersonator, of Lincoln who has appeared nationally over the past 25 years. His appearances include the C-SPAN reenactments of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates as well as the 150th Anniversary of those debates in sites across Illinois in 2008. He appears annually at the Lincoln Forum and at Lincoln and Douglas events in his home town of Freeport, Illinois. In a given year he estimates that he spends about 60 days in character, though he claims the lines between George and Abe never blur. Asked his impression of Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of the title character in the recent acclaimed film Lincoln Buss’s answer was emphatic. “Two thumbs up!” he declared. After watching him bask in the role of big man on campus for a while you wonder if Spielberg had Buss on speed dial had Day-Lewis turned him down.

At one point an especially enthused 21st century teenager rushed Lincoln-Buss, threw his arms around him and gushed, “Abe Lincoln! How you doin’, man?”

They both beamed while their picture was taken together and it was clear that the Great Emancipator remains a man for the ages.

Photos of #SelfieWithAbe at Lincoln High School

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