Manatee County History Fair getting under way and seeks students, judges

vmannix@bradenton.comJanuary 17, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Barbara Schelin was a history major at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Tjet Martin enjoyed the Homeric classics, "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey," during high school in Harvard, Ill.

"We love history," she said.

Which is music to Melissa Porter's ears.

She's the education and volunteer coordinator at the Manatee Village Historical Park and is looking for more judges such as Schelin and Martin for the 2014 Manatee County History Fair.

Porter held the first of two judge-training sessions Wednesday.

"Judges don't have to be experts," she said. "We're looking for people with an open mind, interested in history and a willingness to help students in Manatee County. We want them to look at student research first and the presentation category second."

There were 444 students entered in last year's history fair and a few more than 100 judges to scrutinize their work.

"We'd like to have as many judges as we can get," Porter said. "But we won't know how many judges we'll need until student registration ends."

That's Jan. 24.

Some other key history fair dates are:

• Judges training, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton. People interested in judging must register before participating. Call Melissa Porter at 941-741-4076.

• 9 a.m. Jan. 28 -- Historical papers and websites judging at Manatee Village Historical Park.

• 9 a.m. Feb. 8 -- Documentary and performance judging at Manatee Village Historical Park.

• 9 a.m. Feb. 12 -- Exhibit board judging at Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1402 14th Ave. W., Palmetto.

The Manatee County History Fair has managed to send participants all the way to National History Day at the University of Maryland.

Last year Sami Copeland and Cypress Potter, then Haile Middle School seventh-graders, qualified by winning the junior group website division at the Florida History Fair in Tallahassee.

Their project was on the Great Compromise of 1787, the agreement large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation each state would have under the U.S. Constitution.

Are there more winners where those girls came from?

Schelin can't wait to find out.

"It fascinates me and it will be interesting to see what the kids do," she said.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix

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