New Castle News

January 15, 2013

War stories: Retired teacher to address defining moments of Gettysburg

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Even after more than 30 visits, the sights and sounds of the Battle of Gettysburg still leave Frank Lorello awestruck.

The Edinburg area resident is retired from teaching now — a career that included instructing fifth-graders on the Civil War — but his passion for the subject never died.

The significance is even stronger for Lorello this year as Gettysburg commemorates the 150th anniversary of the historic battle that took place there.

The landmarks of Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, Peach Orchard and Pickett’s Charge and more will be examined during a seven-week program open to Mohawk Elementary School fifth-grade students and their parents — led by Lorello — starting in March.

The series of lessons is called “Gettysburg — The Turning Point.”

As a fifth-grade teacher for 37 years, Lorello took his students to Gettysburg for 31 of the 37 years he was at Mohawk.

Despite bad weather and occasional malfunctions with buses, the kids always enjoyed the experience, he said, adding the battlefield tour was the highlight for the students.

“Each time I go, I learn something new,” Lorello explained. “It’s always changing, new relics are uncovered and it’s a constantly evolving process for me.

“This is my chance to give back to Mohawk.”

The program, which is sponsored by the F.D. Campbell Memorial Library in Bessemer and being held at Bessemer Presbyterian Church, will help prepare students for the annual Gettysburg trip in May. He mentioned, though, that his program is not affiliated with Mohawk, “but I received its blessing to do this.”

The sessions — from 6 to 7:15 p.m. — will be held every Tuesday beginning March 19 and ending April 30.

The deadline for registration is March 1 and those interested may contact Lorello at (724) 667-8048 or at the library at (724) 667-7939.

So many parents expressed an interest that Lorello invited them to pull up a chair and sit in.

“I’m as excited myself as I am for the kids,” he pointed out.

Each week, Lorello will deliver a set topic and share many stories he has accumulated through the years.

March 19 is an introduction to the Civil War and the first two years; March 26 is the Army and early battles; the invasion of Pennsylvania and day one of Gettysburg is April 2.

The fourth session, April 9, will be about Lee’s surrender and April 16 looks at the Highwater Mark or the second and third days of Gettysburg.

A Robert E. Lee impersonator will be the guest on April 23 and for the final session on April 30, Lorello will go into depth on the Gettysburg Address.

A man who impersonates Abraham Lincoln also will make an appearance during one of the programs.

Lorello also plans to do some reunion trips to Gettysburg in the late summer and intends to start an adult class in the fall because of the interest that’s been shown on that topic.  

“Gettysburg and what happened there is monumental. The fate of the country was determined on those battlefields.”