THURSDAY, MARCH 05
After proving their mettle at their respective schools, students from area middle and high schools will see if they have what it historically takes during the regional History Day competition at Oklahoma City University March 27.
Students from metro area schools will give presentations in an event that resembles a science fair. The students have their choice of format to show what they know about a historical topic. They can do so through an exhibit board, a performance, a written paper, a documentary or the recently added Web site category.
This year’s theme is “The Individual in History,” which district competition coordinator Virginia McCombs says makes for a broad topic that should result in a wide range of projects.
“We’re excited to see what the students come up with, because there are an almost limitless number of subjects to choose from with this theme,” said McCombs, who is also the chairwoman of the history department at OCU.
Rachel Rodgers, a freshman student at Classen School of Advanced Studies, has been entering the History Day competition since her first year of middle school. Rodgers chose the Salem witch trials as her subject for this year’s competition and will use the performance category.
“I find the topic interesting, and I don’t think it’s something very many other competitors will use,” she said.
Even though Rodgers had the topic in mind almost a year ago, around the time last year’s competitions were over, she pointed out that contest rules forbid starting on the actual project until mid summer. She said she spent countless hours researching the topic, coming up with a script for the multi-character monologue and coming up with costumes and props. But the hardest part is the performance itself.
“Doing the performance can be a bit stressful, especially when you get into the higher levels of competition. Luckily by then I have gone over it so many times it’s almost automatic,” Rodgers said. The hard work particularly paid off when she was in the seventh grade, when she placed second at the state tournament to win a trip to the national competition in Washington, D.C.
Some schools hold individual History Day competitions, the winners of which go on to districts. Winners of the district competitions go to the state finals at the Oklahoma History Center in May.
McCombs said the judging team for the regional competition at OCU is made up of faculty, staff, history majors and some history buffs from the community.
“The main part of the judging is the interview stage,” she said. “From talking to the students you can get a better idea of how much work they put into their project and how thoroughly they understand their chosen topic.
“Competitions like these give students the chance to study topics as historians do. For instance, they’re required to use primary documents and some secondary sources, so they can’t just get on the computer and get everything from a Web site. It’s a great learning experience.”