Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spectacular State Contest

First off, let me say: WOW. Just, WOW.

Lauren told you at the awards ceremony that Washington is a History Day powerhouse, and you all brought your A-game this year. This is what History Day is about.

A record number (558!) of History Day students from all around Washington competed Saturday at the Washington State History Day Contest. The facilities at Bellevue College were organized, clean, and easy to navigate. (Thank you, Bellevue College! Everyone was a pleasure to work with, and I hope we'll be back next year.)

Teachers, parents, friends, and family (and yes, judges) got to see the outcome of all your hard work. We could tell you all worked very, very hard.

I spent the past two weeks reading junior papers about chemotherapy, the combine, germ theory, the x-ray, the Berlin wall, four-stroke engines, barbed wire, the microscope, the atomic bomb, Wonder Woman, geocentrism, chocolate, and many more innovations. In their interviews, each student spoke eloquently and passionately about their topic. This is what History Day is about.

The exhibit hall, if you ignored the bleachers & slightly curling carpet squares, looked like a museum dedicated to innovation. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rubbed elbows with the longbow and spectacles. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Grand Coulee Dam, and Title IX stood tall alongside the Wilderness Act, the naval chronometer, and the typewriter. The Beatles faced off with the atomic bomb. Aircraft, oncology, and the Great Seattle Fire each had their say.

Craftsmanship, analysis, and enthusiasm ruled the day. This is what History Day is about.

Projects I saw at regional contests mere months ago were unrecognizable (I'm looking at you, Farragut girls--great job!!) and greatly improved (too many to count). It takes courage to get feedback, absorb it, and completely disassemble something you've worked so hard on, but I know more than a few of you got that advice from the judges and followed it. Believe me, it showed in the high quality of the work you presented.

Throughout the day, actors, actresses, and documentarians presented tightly scripted work about blood plasma, the transcontinental railroad, national parks, the Kenny Method, Oklahoma!, the National Archives & Records Administration, Star Trek, the DC-40, and barcodes. That's right: Oklahoma! and barcodes. This is what History Day is about.

Each and every one of you should be incredibly proud of yourself. You've done deep & advanced research. You are historians. Whether you made it to finals or not, won an award or not, you are a historian.

A photographic run-down of the day will follow tomorrow, but for now I leave you with this: Your family, friends, and judges were all impressed by your work. You should be as well.

This is what History Day is about.

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