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Students focus on History Prize

 

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

MARA MACKAY speaks to fifth grade students at Luther L. Wright School in Ironwood Thursday on her proposed project, History Prize. MacKay travels to Traverse City to present her proposal as one of five statewide ideas seeking $5,000 in start-up money at the 2014 Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism.

IRONWOOD - Students from Ironwood and Hurley learned about the proposed History Prize project from founder Mara MacKay this week.

Students participated in oral presentations and writing exercises with MacKay.

Sixth grade students in classes of Karen Mattson and Steve Lombardo participated in MacKay's presentation on Wednesday in Hurley, and fifth grade students in Doug Foley's class in Ironwood had the presentation on Thursday.

On Monday, MacKay will present her idea of the History Prize at the annual Pure Michigan Governor's Conference on Tourism in Traverse City. The idea is one of five projects selected from statewide submissions seeking $5,000 in start-up money. The winner will be announced Tuesday.

History Prize is based on the successful Art Prize in Michigan, but instead of displaying various works of art, History Prize would display living history, fixed exhibitions and collections.

"I've been inspired by Art Prize since its inception," MacKay said. "Every time I went, I was wondering how the Upper Peninsula could harness her creativity in a similar way. I can see visitors coming to the Gogebic Range, discovering Copper Country and going to the Bridge and beyond."

The goal is to hand out prize money for participants competing through history, whether it be groups doing live re-enactments, extensive historic collections or fixed exhibits, like statues or monuments.

If selected at the conference, History Prize would begin in 2016 in Ironwood, a place MacKay said is an "ideal location," because of the area's rich history.

MacKay challenged students to think about all the different aspects related to bringing an event like History Prize to the community.

Students wrote about things they would like to see, spoke in front of their classmates about History Prize and helped MacKay practice her speech.

"I have only three minutes at the conference, so I need all the help I can get," she said.

She stressed the importance of reading and writing in life and how local history is a "major part" of who we are.

"History is important because it shows why we think they way we do and why we do the things we do," MacKay said. "It's important to know about this area."

Mattson said MacKay gave an "excellent presentation," and the students had in-depth questions. They even compared the event to hosting the Olympics.

"I thought that Mara's plan for our community was well thought out and interesting," Hurley student Nadia Tijan said. "Also, I think that her idea will be good for our community and the economy. History Prize will help bring in jobs and tourists from our neighboring states."

MacKay said students responded well, asking questions, participating and even providing ideas for the event.

"This is what motivates me," MacKay said. "These kids have such wonderful energy and passion and hopefully I can bring that with me to Traverse City."

For Foley, the presentation provided a creative way for students to learn.

"I thought it was great," Foley said. "This is what we need. We don't have enough hands-on stuff for the kids, and this also allows us to apply the stuff we learn in the classroom."

Meeting with the students inspires McKay.

"Meeting with kids when I'm creating, no matter if it's a book or a large community event, the glimmer in their eyes when they imagine what it would be like to revisit history, right in their own community, it's that vision my team and I are going to be releasing next week in Traverse City," she said.