Attending the annual regional history fair at Northern
Illinois University for middle and high school students in northern
Illinois on a recent Saturday I found so many history projects
on display it was mind-boggling.
Anne Petty Johnson,
who coordinates this event each year, told me there were 303
exhibits in the Duke Ellington Ballroom assembled by about 400
students from 27 schools in the area. There were 33 teachers
who brought their students to the event for judging.
addition to the displays there were 127 history research papers
entered into competition as well as multimedia displays and students
performing historical skits onstage. Those receiving a Superior
rating will advance to the state expo May 6 and the top winners
then must raise funds to support their travel to Maryland for
the national competition.
But the disconcerting
part was that only two public school districts in DeKalb County
Genoa-Kingston and Hiawatha participated. What
a missed opportunity for those students in the other schools
around the county. However, I should mention that St. Mary Catholic
School from DeKalb was also there.
with two of the teachers, Hillary Einboden from G-K and Todd
Johnson from Kirkland, I was amazed at the effort and quality
of their students work. With more than 300 displays and
no school names attached, I only spotted three of their projects:
Deacon David West and the Underground Railroad presented
by Micaela Canchola, Diana Ascencio and Eisa Garcia, then the
Devastation of Flight 191: American Airlines Cutting Corners
by Alyssa Shannon, and Kirkland: When Sheep Ruled the Town,
designed by Kelly Aves and Courtney Bolin. I was also told about
one titled John Dillinger: Americas First Public
Enemy, presented by Brittany Lutz. There were many others
earning a Superior rating but we will have to wait
for an upcoming news release listing the winners to appear later
in the newspapers.
Now heres my pitch to
the local historical societies and museum groups around DeKalb
County all 15 of them. Why not partner with your schools
history teachers in the middle and high schools to find historical
subjects of local interest and support this extracurricular project
by funding their entry, helping with source materials and even
going into the classroom to promote the idea to the students?
The displays I saw would make a meaningful addition to local
museum exhibits or could be utilized as a program idea for your
meetings during the year.
at all grade levels to learn more about local history and appreciate
the heritage of DeKalb County can only enhance their young lives.
You might even get a history teacher to join your historical
society or museum association. I can think of an example where
a high school history teacher has become president of one, the
Sycamore History Museum Tom Oestreicher.
Anson MacDonald wrote on March 9, 2010
"Thank you, Mr. Schrader, for your adroit perspective here.
I've been making this point for years to no avail. As a middle
schooler here in the 70's, we had a wonderful program under the
tutelage of Mr. James Womack and students were active and engaged
in history fairs. Heading to state and meeting a couple governors
were thrills of my childhood, besides the pride taken in presenting
aspects of our local history to a broad audience. DeKalb school
administration should be ashamed that they fund expensive and
selective programs when such reasonable bang for your buck activities
Kirkland was once the sheep captial of Illinois. Display
created by Hiawatha students Kelly Aves and Courtney Bolin.Devastation of Flight 191--American Airlines Cutting
Corners, designed by Alyssa Shannon of G-K.Deacon David West of Mayfield Church and his involvement
in the Underground Railroad, built by Micaela Canchola, Diana
Ascencio, and Eisa Garcia of Hiawatha.