First Impressions: Aspiring Historians at the Meeting

AHA Staff, March 2005

Editor's note: At the Seattle annual meeting, the AHA provided an opportunity to history teachers (at high school, community college, and undergraduate levels) to bring small groups of interested students with them to attend sessions at specially discounted registration rates. Here we present the impressions of three students, who are all juniors at the Kelso High School. They traveled more than 100 miles with their teacher, Jerri Patten, to take advantage of this special opportunity to attend the annual meeting.

Jerri Patten and StudentsJerri Patten: When the opportunity arose to bring students with me to the AHA's annual meeting, three students from my Advanced Placement U. S. History class applied to go. In their second A.P. history course, they have developed both a good understanding of history and a curiosity about the world. The students enthusiastically participated in every session, asking good questions of the presenters and gaining positive recognition from some of the adults in attendance. Upon returning to school, each student prepared a carefully crafted presentation to share with their classmates. As I listened, I recognized some of what they gained from their attendance: a new confidence about presenting, a new enthusiasm for history, and a new drive to continue pursuing the answers to the questions raised by its study. What teacher can ask for more? Thank you, AHA, for providing such an amazing opportunity for my students. Their impressions are included here as conclusive evidence of its value.

Sophia Lelevich: If I had any doubts of whether I loved history or not before, the AHA meeting blew them all from my mind. As I wandered through the book exhibition, and sat listening to speaker after speaker in the sessions I attended, I realized that this was exactly where I wanted to be in 20 years, and here I was already experiencing it. Every single one of my speakers had such interesting studies and papers, ranging from the history of touch, to consequences of French colonialism, and Japanese influences today, that I was never bored. Besides the great sessions I went to, it was also amazing just to realize that the people at the meeting are the celebrities of history, people who've written books that my class studied; in fact, one of the authors of my history book, David Kennedy, was actually present. Going to the meeting was a great experience and privilege I doubt I'll ever forget.

Robert Dick: Attending the American Historical Association's annual meeting in Seattle was a very interesting learning experience. The variety of the seminars offered made it so that anyone with interest or curiosity in any aspect of history could find something that he or she could listen to and learn from. Research and analysis presented by the lecturers was intriguing and enlightening and added considerable knowledge and understanding to my perception of history. Also, the fact that the lectures were done by the people who had done the original research added to the value of the presentations. If I have the chance to attend another one of these meetings, I will take the opportunity.

Sam Page: Attending the AHA's annual meeting had a profound impact on me. I attended many seminars and group sessions that had a variety of interesting points and theses. They have been beneficial to me, especially in my A.P. U.S. history class. I was able to expand my knowledge about American history overall. The meeting is a great resource for students who wish to expand their U.S. history knowledge. The book vendors are also great because they have really good deals on educational books. The topics discussed were entertaining and I hope that more students will attend the next AHA meeting and benefit from it like I have.

— Jerri Patten teaches at the Kelso High School, Kelso, Washington. Robert Dick, Sophia Lelevich, and Sam Page are juniors at the school, and are in Patten's Advanced Placement U.S. history class.