I've always approached this organization with two thoughts in mind. One- I want this to be student-driven as much as possible. Two- I don't want this to become the "field trip club". To the first point, we generally begin each year with a call-out meeting, and immediately I start talking to kids who might have interest in joining our leadership team. In the past we have used executive officers, but this limited the minds contributing to planning, and so we have blossomed to a 10 student team. These students are central to the planning and implementation of the the club's activities. I obviously want to plan activities which will interest our students, and I want the students to buy-in to the work we are doing. Having a student-led leadership team does just that.
HC Students with Guest Speaker
From there we work towards a goal of planning one activity per month. We strive to vary the activities we plan to include field experiences, but also guest speakers, movie nights, community service, etc. This year we are excited to already have several experiences already in place, including:
- A trip to the Mississinewa 1812 Reenactment- Indiana doesn't have many historical battles around which to build a living history experience, but one that we can count is the Battle of the Mississinewa, which took place near to our school during the War of 1812. This reenactment, while built around that battle, focuses more on the country at the time, and gives students a great experience in speaking with historians. Plus the food is amazing!
HC at 1812
- Participation in the "Follow the North Star" program at Conner Prairie. Central Indiana is truly blessed to have this living history museum, built on the grounds of the William Conner estate. William Conner was an Indiana trader, and his home and land form the basis for an experiential landscape set in 1836 Indiana. This program revolves around Indiana's role in the Underground Railroad, and places students into the role of an escaped slave. The experience is intense and thought-provoking!
One of the best decisions our club has made was to become affiliated with the National History Club. Through this group, our club is able to sponsor a Senior Award (which features the winner recieving a copy of the HC Book of the Year, which is autographed by the author), and the National History Honors Society. This group has also started publishing newsletters, monthly emails with resources, and has a Facebook group in which advisors can share ideas.
Honor Society Inductees
The time I have spent with students in this organization has been amongst the best I've spent in 12 years of teaching. Teachers should always endeavor to build authentic learning experiences into the traditional classroom, but with increasing class sizes, and varied student interest, this isn't always easy. Our history club has proven to be an outlet for specific study, and has allowed students the chance to study elements of history which interest them on a personal level. It has provided opportunities for our students to make history real, and that has sparked interest in continuing their research. If you are a history teacher, consider this opportunity to take what you are teaching outside of the classroom!