History is one of my favorite subjects. I read history for fun. Watch the History Channel religiously. And my kids think I’m a relic.
Anyway, that’s why it’s easy for me to get excited about a competition this weekend as upwards of 600 middle- and high-school students will converge on Colorado College to compete in Regional History Day.
The competition Friday evening and Saturday is open to the public and it’s a great chance to see budding historians in action, displaying how they applied this year’s theme: Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.
There will be dozens of 10-minute video documentaries and live performances to watch and dozens of exhibits created by kids in the region on subjects they chose related to the theme. And it’s all free.
It’s part of a series of regional competitions around Colorado leading to a state competition May 4 at the University of Colorado-Denver. Winners there will compete in the National History Day event — the Super Bowl of history — in June at the University of Maryland.
“It’s really wonderful,” said Kathy Lindeman, the regional contest coordinator. “A lot of kids really get into it. They learn to do research and think critically and ask questions.
“Lots of kids really get hooked, starting in middle school.”
Kathy should know because her daughter, Robyn, first competed in history day in seventh grade. By her sophomore year at Palmer High School in 1997, Robyn and three friends won first place honors in the national competition.
That’s when Kathy began volunteering with the regional competition and she’s seen how it changes kids’ lives, including her assistant director Patti Weintraub.
“I started history day in sixth grade at North Middle School,” Patti told me. “We were forced to do it. I hated history.”
But a teacher sparked her interest and the competition really fed it.
For her, history came to life in the stories of the subjects she researched.
“I was hooked,” said Patti, who is now studying for a master’s degree in history. “It was like playing detective.”
She especially enjoyed digging into artifacts at the Pikes Peak Library District’s special collections.
“You can hold General Palmer’s diary where he talks about the founding of Colorado Springs,” Patti said of Gen. William Jackson Palmer.
“It was so easy to get lost in it all,” she said. “It changed my life.”
See for yourself. There will be 40 documentaries and performances from 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, mostly in the Tutt Science Building. Get a contest guide at Palmer Hall on the CC campus for details.
The public is invited back Saturday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m., to view some 200 exhibits.
See you there.