Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Here's Every History Teacher's Fantasy

There is a California middle school student who loves history so much that taking only one history class wasn't enough, he's signed up for two:
To instill a love of history in her son, Ryan Cutillo's mother began reading history books to him at the age of 2.

It worked.

"I'm especially fond of the 1800s," 12-year-old Ryan said. "I read about it a lot and whenever there's something about the 1800s on the History Channel, I jump for the remote."

Ryan is so passionate about history that one history class at Crosswalks Middle School in Hesperia isn't enough. He signed up for an additional history class as an elective at the Victor Valley Community College library.

On Fridays he and other young historians from Crosswalks are found with their heads in books, researching everything from the history behind child labor to the civil rights movement lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Their goal: to win the National History Day Competition.

National History Day is a yearlong education program designed to help middle and high school students dig deep into historical topics. Students produce dramatic performances, exhibits, multimedia documentaries, posters and papers based on research related to an annual theme. This year's theme: Taking a Stand in History: People, Ideas and Events.

"I'm very proud that these students have chosen to learn more about history as their elective," teacher Becky Espinosa said.

Ryan and classmate Jason Bennett, 12, were surrounded by their research on the Underground Railroad.

"Researching this you discover this event was an early step in the civil rights movement," Ryan said. "To think they actually stood up and helped slaves even though they could have faced death."
I think that it's great that Ryan's mom helped inspire a passion for the study of history in her son. But I would be willing to bet that somewhere in this kid's past was one or more teachers that also had something to do with it.

Learn more about National History Day right here and the NHD Contest over there.
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