April 01, 2009

SIUC to host regional history fair on April 4

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Junior high and high school students will descend on Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Saturday, April 4, for the Southern Region’s History Fair.

Set-up for the fair begins at 8 a.m. in the Student Center with judging to begin at 9:30 a.m. The public may browse the exhibits beginning at 1 p.m.

The regional history fair is one of four in the state at which students in grades six-12 compete with research papers, media displays, historical exhibits and performance art to show their unique understanding of the history of the state. History fair organizers expect approximately 200 students at this event.

Jo Ann E. Argersinger, coordinator and SIUC professor of history, noted that the nation’s eyes are on Illinois this year, with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial and the election of former U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the country’s first black president. The students, however, may choose from any topic that somehow relates to Illinois, she said. This year’s theme, intended to spark creativity in topic selection, is “The Individual in History.”

“We’ve been reaching out to the community, and that has helped us recruit a few schools new to the history fair,” she said. “We hear about terrific history teachers, and we recruit them as judges. Also, this year our graduate students are judges at local history fairs. We’ve had great community support and that helps us bring in more schools as well.”

At least two new schools will attend this year, Belleville West High School and Zion Lutheran School in Bethalto.

This year’s fair also features a workshop with tips about creating historical documentaries on video.

Students who earn a “superior” rating qualify for the Illinois History Expo in Springfield on May 7. Those who earn “superior” there go on to National History Day.

“This is a great opportunity for students to practice their research skills, to use primary documents and to learn to communicate what they learned,” Argersinger said.

Participating schools so far include:

• All Saints Academy, Naperville

• Booth Central Schools, Wilmington

• Breese Elementary School

• Carbondale Community High School

• Carlyle Junior High School

• Cobden Junior High School

• Giant City School

• Good Shepherd Lutheran School, Collinsville

• Jasper County Schools, Newton

• Lighted Path Middle School, Edwardsville

• Norris City-Omaha-Enfield High School, Norris City

• St. Mary’s School, Mt. Vernon

• Unity Point School, Carbondale

• Belleville West High School

• Zion Lutheran School, Bethalto