Once again, it is a pleasure to find that we do have inspirational students and teachers.
This past weekend, the Texas State Historical Association held its annual state-level competition for students from around the state. As part of National History Day, students compete on the local, regional, state and, finally, the national level by producing historical presentations of their choosing that relate to a particular theme. This year it was Exploration, Encounter and Exchange. The topics chosen by the students ranged from Ancient Rome to Ellis Island, from Einstein to Amelia Earhart, from Andy Warhol to Mary Queen of Scots.
I had the opportunity to judge the Group Performances. Students portrayed historical characters, wrote up scripts, designed their costumes and sets, prepared 500-word written explanations and produced extensive annotated bibliographies divided into Primary and Secondary sources. Each presentation could not last longer than ten minutes with five minutes for set-up and five minutes for questions at the end. The students inspired us all with their creativity and ingenuity.
From the Texas History Day web page: https://tshaonline.org/education/students/texas-history-day/75
“After analyzing and interpreting their source material, students create a plan to present their findings to the peers and teachers before moving on to regional, state, and possibly national contests. Students can create and present original research papers, exhibits, performances, websites, and documentaries.
The student projects may be entered into competitions in the spring at one of our regional contests across Texas. Winners from each regional competition will advance to the state contest in Austin. Students who place first or second at our state contest advance to the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest held each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.”
Because of people like Stephen Cure (far left, unloading boxes), Education Director of the TSHA, our students frequently advance to the National Competition. And because of the help and encouragement of teachers and parents, our students have won medals on the national level against the best from across the country.
This program could not be carried on without the help of volunteers. The ones who are most impressive are the teachers who bring students to compete and then stay on to work as judges in the many categories. These teachers are the ones who somehow have to inspire their students to participate and keep them motivated throughout the semester to complete their projects. Then they have to wrangle the money from their principals to bring the students – sometimes from distant Laredo or El Paso or Lubbock- then feed and house them while they are in Austin. It is no easy chore.
There are also dozens of college-age students recruited from the History and Education Departments at the University of Texas. They work all day long as monitors, guides, judges and all-around go-fors to get directional signs set up, to point people in the right direction, help students with their often large and cumbersome props. I met two, Josue and Susana, who are both planning to go on to Law School.
The TSHA does a tremendous job of organizing the program. They assign students to rooms all over the UT campus, put judges with them, collect the judges forms, rate and rank the students then gather everyone for final competitions. It is an amazing and impressive display of talent and student ability.
Thanks to all the students, teachers, volunteers, and especially the Texas State Historical Association. Our students couldn’t do it without you!