Oy, what a day I had!

We had a BIG day on Saturday, and I’m just now recovered enough to write about it. I’m lucky enough to have a daughter in IMPACT, the gifted program here in Missouri. In middle school, the IMPACT classes participate in National History Day, a fantastic program that teaches kids how to create in-depth research projects and relate them to that year’s theme. They spend months working on them in class, then they go to a regional competition. The top three at regionals move on to the state competition, and the top two from state get to travel to DC for the national competition.

My daughter is in eighth grade, so this is her second year competing. Last year, she and a friend created a website and made it as far as the state round. This year she worked alone, building a website about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire to go with the theme of Rights and Responsibilities. She’d forgotten how much work it took, and complained just a bit (i.e. a lot). By the time regionals came around, she said she hoped she didn’t move on, she didn’t want to have to work anymore on it. Regionals were held at the Truman Library, and she dressed up, did her interview and came home. She didn’t even want to go to the award ceremony that afternoon because she was so convinced that she wouldn’t/didn’t want to be selected for state.

We got a call from her teacher that evening: She had come in first in her category. Not surprisingly, she was delighted, and that recognition sparked a desire to work harder. She spent several days after school improving her website and when it came time for state, there was no mistaking: she wanted to win. She wanted to get to nationals.

The state round was held on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia. It’s a big campus with lots of history and lovely architecture, and even though we’d been there last year, we knew to get there early to allow for some getting-lost time. Her interview time was 9 a.m., the first of the day, so we were up and on the road by 6:30. We found our way around without too much trouble, and I saw these awesome signs in the Student Unions Center. They made me want to go to college again. I’d have fun at MU!

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We got her registered and had plenty of time to get to her interview.

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While we waited, she got out the iPad and made sure her website was pulled up and ready to go. I was amazed that she showed no indication of nerves. I would have been a wreck, but she’s got composure and confidence to spare.

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She was done by 9:15 but we had to wait three hours until they posted the top six in each category. The judges would review those six and from them, pick the two to go to nationals. We had a lot of time to kill. Our first order of business was to go to the MU store to get her some flip-flops. Silly girl had forgotten to bring comfy clothes and shoes to change into, and her 4-inch heels were killing her feet. $17 later, her feet felt good. A trip to the nearby Old Navy netted her some sweat pants, and she looked like the perfect college student. By then, we had about 30 minutes’ knitting time (I worked on my shawl, she worked on a hat, the hubby napped) and then it was time to check the list.

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This year it was good news: she’d made it to the next round. Whew! After the cheering and hugs were done, we realized that meant we had another three hours to kill. Well, that was easy: lunchtime in Columbia means Shakespeare’s Pizza. The pizza is spicy and delicious and worth every minute of the long wait. It’s a favorite for most of the college students, and the souvenir cups show up at a lot of different campuses.

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I managed to sneak in another short bout of knitting but before I knew it we were in Jesse Hall waiting for the announcement. Of course, the individual website category was next to last so we had to wait…and wait…but at last they got to it. Third place, the alternate to DC if a winner couldn’t go, was announced; it wasn’t her. Second place…she won! As much as we were all hoping, none of us really expected it to happen. Of course she was over the moon; the only downside was that her best friend had competed in the same category and didn’t make it to Nationals. But even that couldn’t quash the glee.

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So now comes the rush to figure out who’s going with her, make travel arrangements, revise the website even more. I’m pretty sure she feels it was worth all the work. It was a fantastic day, even if we were all exhausted. It was an emotional roller coaster. It was a lot of walking, a lot of people and crowds and talking and noise, and more walking. My feet were sore, my legs were tired–and still complaining the next day. I know the DC experience will be even more of all of that…and I can’t wait!

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