Every year Messiah College hosts one of the regional rounds in the National History Day competition. As I note in this post and in the Virtual Office Hours episode embedded below, it is always an exciting time for the students participating and the Messiah College History majors who participate as judges. It is even exciting for middle-aged history professors who walk around with unplugged microphones interviewing people:
Over at the blog of the Maryland Humanities Council, a History Day parent shares the experience that she and her son had competing in Maryland state competition. Here is a taste:
Watching my older son fail at the Maryland History Day competition
on Saturday was one of the toughest things I’ve done as a parent. He
had paced through the hours between his presentation to the judges and
announcement of the awards. At the awards ceremony, his face was pale.
He clenched and unclenched his hands and jaw, and stared intently at
the emcees while other awards were announced. When his name wasn’t
called for either the first or second place in his category, his posture
sagged and I could see that he was working hard to keep his emotions
under control. When we left the Retriever Athletic Center at UMBC, he
stormed off ahead of me. An hour later, I had never been prouder of
him, even though he had failed to accomplish an important goal.
My son blundered into the National History Day
competition by accident in sixth grade. All we knew was that it was a
compulsory school project that would be a big part of his grade. He was
dragging his feet on picking a topic the afternoon before it was due.
“What do you want to do the project on?” I asked him in exasperation. He picked up a rubber chicken toy. “Something with chickens,” he said.
“Fine,” I said. “Let’s go to the Internet and look up chicken history. Let’s have some fun with this.”
He found a book on the development of large-scale chicken farming on
the Delmarva Peninsula. He visited an agricultural museum in Delaware
and a poultry farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He designed an exhibit
board shaped like a chicken, and used some basic model railroad
construction techniques to build a diorama. I was surprised when he
received an award for the project at his school. Astounded when the
project won cash prizes at the county and state competitions. Charmed
when I watched him run around the University of Maryland campus to trade
state buttons with competitors from all over the United States and
beyond. Thrilled when I saw the impact of success in the History Day
competition on his self-esteem. He was thinking of himself as a
success. A winner.
Read the rest here.