Thursday, May 15, 2014

Back To The Future

Take this year's theme "Rights and Responsibilities", choose an historical event, research the heck out of the historical event, apply the theme to your research (or vice versa) mix well and choose a method of presentation: research paper, website, documentary, performance or exhibit. Prepare, refine, rehearse. Repeat this step often. Oh and (for all but the research paper) write a 500 word or less process paper about why you chose the historical item and the presentation method and how you prepared it. And don't forget a bibliography which cites primary and secondary sources used in your research. 

THEN, present your finished project to a panel of 2-4 judges. Feel your stomach knot and turn while you stand and wait for the judges to read your process paper and ask you questions about your project. Worry about whether the technology will run smoothly; fret about the box of process papers that didn't make it on the bus from your school hundreds of miles away; sweat because your project partner had a baseball game today leaving you to carry on alone; all while knowing that only two of the 30 or so projects in your category will go on to Washington in June for National History Day. 

THAT is National History Day in PA

A lot of adults would (and have) cracked under less pressure. But on May 12-13th, 850 determined and talented students in 6 through 12th grade from all across Pennsylvania came to Millersville University to put their projects up for the 2014 contest. And to get to Millersville most had to compete at their local regional contest first. 

For two days we (volunteer judges and support staff) watched carefree 11-17 year old children morph into first class students and back to carefree kids - more than once. For many this is an annual event reuniting with friends they made in previous years. Others were welcomed to the club. The friendships forged here run deep. This was most evident during the awards ceremony as kids from private, public and home schools cheered the winners. Perhaps a higher level shriek for those from your own school but the enthusiasm for all who would represent Pennsylvania in the national contest was widespread. Sure there were some disappointed faces. Who wouldn't be after all that hard work? In the end though, there were high fives and congratulations everywhere. 

I wasn't sure what I was going to say about my two days but the title of this post has been in my head since early Monday morning. "Back to the Future" I spent two amazing days ensconced in the history presented by these kids who are the future. And the future really does look bright!! 

On a more personal note niece Cara took first place in the Senior Individual Performance. She will return to the National Contest for the third year in a row. This is her 1st First Place at the state contest. She took second in 2012 and 2013. First and Second in each category move on. Here is a photo of Cara and her teacher & mom, Jill. 

Sisters Cara, Bippy (Elizabeth), and Kim participated and qualified for the State Competition this year. We are so proud of them all.

Debriefing in the shade
before the award ceremony
At the award ceremony

History Day is an extended family affair for the Gormley clan. My brother Thomas, his daughter Amy (also a past participant in the research paper category), my sister Meg and I participate as volunteer judges. And Robbie, not quite old enough to be a participant yet is chief cheerleader! Seriously folks, you have not experienced support for your team until you've heard Robbie in support of his sisters. 

Keep smiling and keep moving wishes to Cara at Nationals - June 15-19 in Washington, DC. 


  1. Great post, Paula! Sounds like it was a great experience all-around. How inspiring!