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National History Day 2008 Finals

Team Wisconsin Arrives in College Park!

NHD 2008 Finals
Team Wisconsin waits
for the Metro so we can
begin our adventure!

It's been a great start to the national contest for Team Wisconsin! Competitors began arriving yesterday and today, and have proceeded to make College Park, Maryland home. It's begun to cool off a bit, so they have gotten a head start on their sightseeing. Members of the delegation went into the city together to learn how to ride the Metro and visit the Old Post Office Pavilion. Team Wisconsin reconvened for a pizza party and scavenger hunt before heading to the opening ceremony. Many of us sported cheeseheads, which were popular with students from around the country. With our matching shirts, we were easy to spot in the crowd.

Best of luck to Junior Division students as they meet with the judges tomorrow. We are proud of all your accomplishments!

On Wisconsin!
-Sarah and Sarah Michele, Team Wisconsin Leaders

Posted at 10:00 PM

Deb, Parent from Green Bay

NHD 2008 Finals
Deb made sure everyone
saw her very popular Team Wisconsin
t-shirt as her son registered.

Our official NHD experience began with a "Sarah and Sarah" lesson on metro riding and ticket purchasing. They are definitely pros and helped a lot of neophytes. They did a fantastic job of keeping track of their Wisconsin herd!

Our destination was the Old Post Office building. The glass elevator ride was fun - for some! Others looked a little green! When we stopped off the elevator, the view took our breath away! For many of us, it was our first glimpse of the Washington landmarks. Spectacular!

Confident with our metro lesson, we set out for a day of sightseeing!

Posted at 10:01 PM

Val, Student from Random Lake

NHD 2008 Finals
Team Wisconsin shows
their state pride!

Hey ya'll back home. I got to D.C. last night and stayed with some friends. Today we went out and about in Baltimore. I saw Ft. McHenry and did a quick tour of the inner harbor. For lunch we stopped at a little pastry place in Little Italy. The food there was to die for. I had a chocolate Vanilla Napoleon and some small cannolis. I still couldn't believe that I ate that much of dessert for lunch!!

To me it was still a dream being able to make it this far, until I got into the registration room. It just blew my mind at how many people were there and how little there were of Cheeseheads. We are still gonna rock their socks.

I then went off to do the scavenger hunt which was so much fun. I was really surprised at how much I knew where stuff was. When I got back my feet were hurting so much, but it was worth it, because it was so much fun. I got to meet a lot of new people trading buttons, which was also really neat. Some of the buttons were so awesome I wish I had more of them. After the opening ceremony I went to set up my exhibit. When we got into the Stamp Union I had no clue where the senior exhibits were supposed to be set up, so I started running around looking for someone to tell me where to go. It started to get even worse. When I finally found where I was supposed to be, I realized that I had to know what number my exhibit was supposed to be. So then I ran back to the dorms like a chicken with its head cut off looking for my exhibit's number! When I got back I was lucky enough to have had my mom and a couple other people get my exhibit out of the holding room and into the Grand Ballroom. I was able to get my exhibit set up within the time limit.

My exhibit is on Mineral Point mining. I learned so much about my home state by doing this project. I learned a lot about why our state was named and who all came to this little town to get it started. Without this little town in the southwestern corner of Wisconsin, we would not have this lovely dairy state. I would totally do this again.

Hope ya'll are all well

Posted at 10:02 PM

Jim, teacher from Random Lake

NHD 2008 Finals
Capitol building from
the Old Post
Office Pavillion.

Greetings to all back in Sconnie, Wisco, America's Dairyland, or whatever y'all want to call yourselves this evening. Please note my use of the proper gender neutral collective y'all. This, according to my friend Stephen, a resident of Maryland, is required when addressing groups like all y'all blog readers. Seriously though, it is great to be back out at the University of Maryland again. Amazingly, this is my fourth trip in the last five years with the fine scholars of Random Lake. So far its been all travel and logistics, but we are moved into the dorms now and ready for a big day of sightseeing. I have also had a chance to enjoy some excellent food, including Maryland Crab Cake Soup and canolli and gelato at Vaccaro's in Baltimore's Little Italy. I've been spoiled yet again. I am really excited for Val and Anna. They will be competing on Tuesday in the Individual Exhibit and Individual Performance categories. The level of exhibits is just amazing this year again. It was also great to see NHD growing with the addition of Guam this year. I'll write more later if demanded. Much love to all back in Random and to my family back in flood stricken Saukville. Go Badgers!

Jim DeBroux

Posted at 10:03 PM

Tyler, Student from Manitowoc

NHD 2008 Finals
Team Wisconsin enjoys the
opening ceremony and gives a big
Badger cheer!

Hello Wisconsin!!! Sorry I haven't been in touch with anyone back at home, but I unfortunately lost my cell phone on the metro in the very beginning of the day. What a bummer! The weather has been sooooo hot, almost too hot at times. My all nighter yesterday putting together my groups process paper and bibliography probably wasn't a good idea. If I've learned anything from National History Day, it is NOT to procrastinate. Hopefully I'll be able to take my downfalls from the experience and channel them to help me grow as a learner and as a person.

The heat started getting to me once we stayed in the dorms, because they don't have air conditioning! Sarah told me to get a fan, and I'm thankful I took her advice. She and the rest of the people I've met have been extremely friendly and helpful.

Although my group does not perform our project until Tuesday, Hannah and I are both really nervous about having our lines memorized. We plan on working at it tomorrow after a bit of sight seeing

I've made a few new friends, and we've been playing card games in the hallways for the past few hours. But it's getting late, and I best be getting to be I'll need to be rested up for tomorrow's festivities! Goodnight!


Posted at 10:04 PM

Jeffrey, Student from Madison

NHD 2008 Finals
Jeffrey shows off
his button collection.

Today was my first official day participating in the national event. When I arrived at the University of Maryland campus, I was greeted by swarms of eager young historians from nearly every state and territory of the whole country. Almost immediately as I set foot inside the Student Union building, I reached my first major challenge of the competition, the popular activity of button trading. For any student, parent, sibling, or teacher who goes to College Park to compete in or observe the NHD national event, button trading is a critical part of the contest. Even the most obstinate critics of the activity will find themselves sucked in to the allure and popularity of the activity. My non-conformist friend, Eli, who had refused to trade buttons prior to the competition, gave in to peer pressure and bought twenty new Wisconsin buttons.

My own foray into the button trading game began at the registration room. While waiting in a long, sluggish line of NHD participants and teachers, a young kid from Tennessee approached me and asked for a trade. I accepted, and after seeing how easy it was to join the trading game, walked around the crowded ballroom, looking for advantageous trades.

For the inexperienced novice to the National History Day competition, button trading is an intuitive activity with few rules. The goal is to collect buttons from all fifty states, and a few territories including Guam and American Samoa. However, it gets more complex the farther one advances into the game. Most states have two or more variations of their buttons, and the value of some buttons is higher than others. For example, I had to trade with my fellow Wisconsinite Adam four Wisconsin buttons for one of the Department of Defense's Europe buttons. The later you enter the game, the harder it is to reach the end goal. I found that when I went around asking button traders of a certain portion of the room for a Wisconsin button trade, they told me that they already had collected Wisconsin's button. Therefore, the best way to succeed in the activity is to start early, and avoid areas covered by team members of the same state.

There are many opportunities during the five-day competition to trade with fellow NHD students, including the opening ceremony and registration. At the opening ceremony, which is usually held outside, be sure to focus your search for new buttons by noticing the small enclaves of the grassy field reserved for specific states. New York, Florida, and New Hampshire are some of the few states that hold up signs marking their team's territory.

Currently, I have buttons from thirty-six states, doubles from California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, New York, Texas, and Utah, and fifteen Wisconsin buttons. For extra Wisconsin buttons, you can contact Sarah and answer state trivia questions for five a piece. A helpful tool for organizing and keeping track of what buttons you have, and don't have, you can rely on page thirty-nine of the information booklet you receive during registration (paging will vary for different years' competitions).


Posted at 10:05 PM
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