AUGUSTA — History doesn’t have to be boring.
For the dozens of youngsters from throughout central, southern and western Maine, it was anything but at the annual National History Day competition at the University of Maine at Augusta.
Among the throngs of middle- and high-school students were 38 from Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10; 38 from Buckfield Junior-Senior High School and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, and 10 from Dirigo Middle School.
It was the first time Dirigo students took part in the competition.
Susan Boyce-Cormier’s five seventh-graders decided to film a documentary on man’s first steps on the moon.
They did a four-minute talk show format “interviewing” Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins, the first astronauts to head to the moon in 1969.
That first walk on the moon gave Americans pride, seventh-grader Kelsey Hutchins said.
“It set the bar,” said Lea Nolette.
“People all over the world are trying to go to the moon,” said Abby Colpitts.
As part of their research, they interviewed teachers who were in elementary school and college when that first step on the moon was taken.
Buckfield senior Kristen MacBride, dressed in a Shaker costume, much of it sewn by her mother, performed a simple Shaker dance for judges Patricia Erickson, a history teacher at the University of Southern Maine, and Wendy Hazard, a history teacher at UMA.
“We judge on historical accuracy, context, a sense of where it is coming from and the impact of the subject matter,” said Erickson who said interest in the history competition has grown over the years.
MacBride spoke of the innovations, history and impact the Shaker communities had on the country. Among her research was an interview with the last living Shaker in the New Gloucester community.
Seventh-grader Elizabeth Perry, also dressed in a Shaker outfit sewn by her mother and grandmother, sang one of the Shakers’ most well-known songs, “Simple Gifts,” and described the history of the religious community.
Students could compete with a performance, an exhibit, a documentary, Web site or historical research paper. This year’s theme was “Innovation in History: Impact and Change.”
A group of five Dirigo eighth-graders created an exhibit on the impact of refrigeration on the lives of people.
Lindsy Crutchfield of Carthage was surprised to learn how refrigeration improved women’s lives. She also discovered that an invention isn’t always something that can be bought. It could be an idea, as well.
Crutchfield hopes she can compete again when she gets into high school. The competition is for students in grades 6-12.
Cormier decided to have some students compete this year because it would be a good experience, and it takes history one step further. And now, they have a better idea of how to prepare for another competition.
“Children this age like to compete,” she said.
AUGUSTA — Buckfield-area schools virtually cleaned up at Wednesday’s National History Competition held at the University of Maine at Augusta.
Thirteen of the 38 grades six through 12 youngsters will compete nationally in June at the University of Maryland. First- and second-place winners can compete. Buckfield Junior-Senior High School and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School students also took four third-place prizes.
Linda Andrews, a gifted and talented teacher in the Buckfield region, took her students for the third time to the state competition. She said the most prestigious awards went to Kristen MacBride, a senior, for having the best Maine-related subject in grades 9-12; and Sierra Wescott and Catherine Gallant, eighth-graders, who took the best Maine-related award for grades six through eight.
MacBride also took first place for individual performance for her portrayal of a Shaker founder and a discussion on the history of the Shakers. Wescott and Gallant took a second in documentaries, also on the Shakers.
Other first-place awards went to:
• Calvin Downey, Scott Wheeler and Jesse Warren, all seventh-graders, for their junior group performance on the Innovation of Jazz.
• Reilley Hicks, a sixth-grader, for a junior individual performance of one of the founders of Industrial Workers of the World, Lucy Parsons. She also received the junior Relevance for Today award.
Other second-place winners were:
• Abigail Campbell, Megan Salisbury and Mckayla Darling, eighth-graders, for a group performance on American Sign Language.
• Jamie Brickel, Tiffani Rowe and Staci Remillard, eighth-graders, for an exhibit on the insulin pump.
The state provides some money for the first-place winners to compete in Maryland, but far from the total cost of $700 per student. Andrews said fund-raising would start soon.
Buckfield students in the junior division also earned the most points of any of the 16 schools that competed; they received a plaque.
The national competition runs June 13-17.