National History Day competitors from Calhoun (L-R)
Destiny Wager, Shaylah Wilson, Destiney Murphy, Kaitlyn
Toney, Alicia Mills, Megan Harding, and Darla Harrison
Calhoun Middle-High School History Coach Dan Cosgrove comments on Calhoun students at National History Day Competition held over the weekend in University of Maryland.
Calhoun County began competition in the preliminary round on Monday, with The Freedom Team going first. The stress levels were palpable, even starting before leaving Calhoun when props were loaded at the school over the weekend. With a change in transportation, a crucial prop would not fit in the vehicle. The coach had to make a tough decision and found a saw…
Arriving Sunday with the competition scheduled for the next day, we checked the venue for the performance. It was in a small classroom, just smaller than the one we practice in at school. However, everything fit fine and students were comfortable with the space.
Early Monday morning, we took on Washington’s rush hour traffic and found a Home Depot to buy paint, bushes and of course duct tape to fix the sawed off prop.
With their competition scheduled for 1:20 p.m., we arrived almost 2 hours early to repair the prop and put together the other pieces. Finding a place outside the building to work, the girls used a power drill, spray glue, paint and yes, duct tape to put their props together. Even thing was ready and put together with a half hour to spare.
The stress took on different dimensions when we went in the building to the classroom and saw it full of college students having a lecture with a note on the door saying the venue had changed.
We found the location. The room was literally 1/3 the size of a normal classroom. We were scheduled as the 2nd group of the afternoon to perform. The first group was scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. It was about 12:50 and they were already performing! The girls ran to find a place to change into their costumes and were back right when they were called. Part of the competition includes 5 minutes to set-up props. All of the performances were open to the public and with limited seating; the hallway was jammed with people trying to get in, as the girls were trying to maneuver props around them into the room.
After months of rehearsals, the location of the props had to be changed because of the small space. Although their coach was worrying, the girls stood in front of the judges and calmly introduced themselves and performed their skit with skill and confidence, moving in directions they never practice with ease. The Judges questioned them about their topic and the students received a round of applause from the audience. Why worry? They are state champions!
The Salem’s Team was scheduled to perform at 2:40 p.m. in the main theater at the University. Although they had plenty of room, the fact they were center stage in a big theater was equally stressful. Again, they are responsible for bringing their props on stage. With two full size podiums; parents, chaperones and coach were holding their breath as they carried them up the stairs to the stage (We used dollies to get them in the building). One of the girls recently had surgery on her knee and was still handling the podiums.
Their performance was flawless. They were called down off the stage to stand in front of the judges to answer questions. They had more questions asked to them than any group I have seen. Every question was answered and I believe the judges were asking questions on a personal level because they just wanted to know more about the history of the Salem Witch Trials and the girls were obvious experts.
Our teams did not make it to finals and they were blaming themselves about imaginary things they thought they did wrong. That evening I attended a teacher’s social and sat with a friend from Gilmer County. Besides being a social studies teacher, he is Gilmer’s head football coach. We talked football and about his team and his coaching. He has been improving his record every year and is getting better as a coach. As I listen, I thought about “my team”. They did everything I wanted them to do, everything we covered in all the practices. I could not find a thing they did wrong. So it is on me. I need to continue to improve on my coaching. It took 3 years to get a state championship; I need to work harder to earn a national championship.
I hope everyone in the county is as proud of these students as I am. They did something amazing. Calhoun County students competed in a national academic event. They are some of the top students in the country. And to tell you a secret, we have a lot more in our school.
It has truly been an honor and privilege to work with great kids. We start History 2-a-days in August.
See COSGROVE RECEIVES PATRICIA BEHRING TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD