On Saturday, Cleveland will play host to the Southeast Tennessee History Day competition for the first time.
Sixty-one students are expected to converge upon the Museum Center at Five Points for the event that will allow middle and high school students from around the region to share what they have learned about American history.
Students will be presenting a variety of historical projects based on a common theme in hopes of being named the best storytellers.
The theme this year is “Rights and Responsibilities.” Students can choose any topic they feel fits within the theme.
Joy Veenstra, the curator of education at the museum and the district competition’s coordinator, said this year’s competitors have chosen to focus on a variety of themes, but many have chosen to focus on women fighting for the right to vote.
Once students have chosen their topic, they can write an academic paper, create a website, put on a theatrical performance, make a documentary film or create a museum-style exhibit. The possibilities of what can be done to share the stories of historical events is only limited by students’ imaginations.
“I have been blown away by History Day projects,” Veenstra said.
Students can compete as individuals or in groups. There are two different age group categories as well. Middle school students take part in the junior division, and high school students take part in the senior division.
Competitors from places like McMinn, Meigs and Monroe counties will be visiting to share their projects and performances. This year, only two students participating in the competition are from Bradley County. However, Veenstra said she is optimistic the number of local students will be larger next year.
“I’ve been working to raise awareness locally and get more Bradley County participants,” Veenstra said.
She said teachers can either make creating a project for the competition a classroom assignment, or students can register to participate on their own.
The winners of the regional competition will then move on to the Tennessee History Day competition March 24 in Nashville. The winners of the state competition can then take part in National History Day, which will take place June 15-19 at the University of Maryland at College Park, which is near Washington, D.C.
Veenstra said much of the judging for the regional history event is closed to the public, because part of the process has students taking part in interviews with the judges. They will be judging students’ exhibits between 10 a.m. and noon.
However, anyone interested in learning about the competition can stop to see what it is like. The event is set to take place at the museum on Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“This is a cool opportunity for students,” Veenstra said, reiterating her desire to see more local students take part next year.
Between now and then, the museum will be hosting events for teachers to help them learn how to lead their students in learning about history using primary sources, something that could help students tell others about history.
The first will be on April 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the museum will host a free workshop for educators titled “Primary Sources and Common Core.”
The museum requires teachers to register for the event by calling 339-5745 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.