The audience in the jam-packed sanctuary of First Assembly of God Church in Waxahachie on Feb. 19 enjoyed a music and dance salute to the man 65 historians have named as the best president of the United States – Abraham Lincoln.

After a welcome by Advantage Academy principal Michael E. Partain, the program, “Tribute to Abraham Lincoln,” was presented by kindergarten to fifth-grade students of the school.

The patriotic evening began with the younger students standing and waving small flags as the older students in the choir came down the aisle waving their flags as they made their way to the stage. The audience joined them in singing the “Star Spangled Banner” and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Secondary students Yakeedra Lawson, Ce’ara Miles-Hall, JameciaMiles-Hall and Garret White make up a dance group, The Fly Steppers, and, under the direction of director of dance Amy Kirk, did a routine that had the audience clapping to show their approval.

Throughout the routine, students took turns reciting Lincoln’s accomplishments.

As the choir sang songs from the Civil War era, the students presented additional accomplishments of Lincoln’s.

The program’s songs included “Americans We,” “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Dixie Land.”

As they sang the finale, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and recited the Gettysburg Address, many members in the audience could be seen with tears in their eyes.

The student-narrators included Allison McGehee, Amanda Ellis, Arshama Dehghan, Katie Lanoue, Braiden Nail, Joseph Lanoue, Onesimo Zuniga, Ashley Lowe, Gannon Escobar, Allison Jackson, Dylan Green, Stephen Mendez, Michaela Sierra and Lukas Middleton.

The tambourine players were Stetson Landrum, Allisa Lloyd, Lydia Schmelzer and Ben Rice, with Karen Jones serving as music director.

The stirring tribute to the nation’s 16th president was a celebration of his life and a reminder of the impact he has had on the nation – past and present.

Second-year teacher Kim Landrum was sitting with her first grade students.

“I enjoy teaching. It keeps you fresh and young to hear the children’s perspective on things,” she said. “I love it here. It is an incredible district to work for. The parents are absolutely wonderful and supportive.

“I feel that since this school is a school of choice, it makes a difference,” Landrum said.

Jennifer and Ben Rice, Sr. are two of the many parents who turned out to watch their children: third-grader Ben and second-grader Jacob.

“This school is more family-oriented and we get to keep our faith-based schooling,” Jennifer Rice said.

At the end of the program, Partain thanked everyone for coming to the performance.

“This is a good school.  We have a wonderful staff and we have great families,” he said.