That History Day Guy

March 12, 2008

How do you Know your in Western New York

Filed under: Uncategorized — historydayguy @ 6:12 pm

There are many ways you know you are in Western New York. One is by suddenly hearing the sounds of Canadians on the Radio, or having to order a DoubleDouble at Tim Hortons, instead of a Pumpkin Latee at Dunkin Doughnuts or the fact that raining down from the sky is a massive winter storm that threatens your safety at every turn.

The other way you know is if you meet teachers and students, they are dedicated, hard working, and if you are lucky, doing History Day.  So it was last Saturday on a day where by all rights everyone should be soundly asleep in their beds, a small, very dedicated group of students parents and teachers gathered for the 1st annual regional competetion of the newly formed Western Southern Tier region.

Now I am still new to the Empire State, but I have a special love for this far flung part of NYS. About two years ago I started chatting with a wonderful teacher from Chautauqua Lake High School about doing NYSHD. From that conversation we began discussing a TAH grant project in the area and a great guy named Paul Benson who coordinates that grant. This led to my first really successful professional development session there with over 20 teachers.

This also led to a discussion for the need of a new region in the area. Now setting up a new region doesn’t sound like a big deal but it has massive implications for us in Cooperstown. First off we are thrilled in the interest. But we have to make sure the people pursuing it have a strong understanding of the program, can handle its unique peculiarities and are in it for the long haul. We also have to be sure we can handle the additional entries on our end, so figure  2 x every category and all the sudden you need quite a bit of space for a contest that currently takes over every building in Cooperstown practically!

But that is where the love of WNYS comes in. Enter John Ames. Former teacher, volunteer coordinator and History Day enthusiast extraordinaire. He presented himself as a possible new regional coordinator, visited the state competition, and invited me out again this fall for another round of development with a new group of teachers. He is an amazing guy with a great spirit and drive to bring the program to whomever he can. He has found a home base at The Jackson Center, which is a phenomenal teacher, student, and community resource and is the sponsor of the region

So if all of this was not enough, the History Department at Fredoniawanted also to host the competition at their Campus.  Ellen Litwiki and Eileen Lyon were instrumental in the organizing and use of the facility. Many Staff members were present as well to serve as judges.

So A Triumvirate of passionate History Day supporters gathered in some of the worst weather of the season to celebrate student achievement. And the students came. All but one group were able to brave the weather. Students came and presented well developed work for first time History Day participants. The topics were varied, the presentations earnest and we look forwarded to their joining us in Cooperstown in the Spring.

This is a program about kids, and a large group of caring adults have moved some large mountains to provide them an opportunity to explore the meaning of history, the process of learning, and the challenge of competition. We want to thank, and congratulate everyone who made this day an overwhelming success. Look out Central New York, the best of the west is coming!


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