National History Day

Okay, so I didn’t make it past County level in the National History competition—and I’m okay with that; I came in with a mediocre product, and left with a clearer idea of what needs to be done.

Last minute work is the most unlikely to succeed; my documentary was first created at the last minute, and that theme was prevalent throughout even the two months I had to revise and improve it before this day. I delayed almost all revision and preparation up to the day before the presentation, leaving me awake half the night just dealing with technical issues. This is entirely unacceptable.

A documentary is not a PowerPoint, nor is it a sole interview with 5/8 exposition, or a piece of learned progression which frequently varies in quality, from lackluster to decent—and yet mine incorporated all of these undesirable traits. It was my first video, and could have been my eighth, if I had spent the time to rework it entirely.

But the video isn’t everything; the distinct lack of a perfect pitch, or even the ability to make one, is a glaring issue which derives from an insufficient discussion or focus on the subject material. And waiting until the last thirty minutes before the presentation to consider possible interview questions and formulate answers just won’t cut it.

Then there’s the inadvertent, wandering gaze and the shuffling of feet which can be derived from a lack of confidence in the quality of the presentation. No amount of preceding confidence or solid discourse can avoid this if the floundering essence of one’s presentation unravels before his or her eyes. As long as I produce mediocrity, this will be a problem.

And one last thing, which directly conflicts with a Springs requirement for history day presentations: overtly stating the message, in almost all cases, has no place when the message can instead be derived. When I witnessed others’ presentations—that is, the good ones—, I noticed that the theme, “right and responsibilities in history,” was always hinted at, but never directly stated. Flabob had us integrate direct statements into both our introduction and our presentation, making certain that each person’s topic directly tied into the theme directly, rather than implicitly. While this can be necessary in very select situations, this insults the intelligence of the viewers in any work of quality.

And that’s what I learned.