Chatfield student finding success as he digs deeper into history

Isaac Rain recently presented his History Day project at the state level. His information about the Jay Treaty earned him an honorable mention and a first-place finish in his group. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
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Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Chatfield News

Isaac Rain’s Jay is history.

All the same, he got into the primaries.

“By the end of the week, it might seem hard to find something to do. I might get bored,” commented Chatfield High School (CHS) student Rain. That dilemma might arise because Rain has completed the state History Day competition and he will no longer have to study and fine-tune his presentation. The judges commended him on his project about the Jay Treaty, a document that was the founding basis upon which the United States’ political parties are built.

He continued, “I’m used to going home and working on my History Day project. But it was fun to go to state. I ended up getting honorable mention and first place in my group. I’m guessing I was about top ten in the exhibit category overall.”

Rain also felt the experience was enjoyable as he had fun going to the University of Minnesota bookstore to purchase books, and he went bowling, too. “That was probably the best round I’ve ever done, and in dress clothes,” he added.

He was excited that his presentation earned him the right to be in the primary round. “That part, for me, was unexpected. Mr. (Tom) Hilgren helped a little bit, telling me what to look for and helped me find some really good resources for my project, some journals that showed the Jay Treaty actually started our political parties,” he explained.

Rain is Hilgren’s final History Day student, as Hilgren is retiring at the end of this school year, and the sophomore has had the full benefit of the history teacher’s wisdom — enough so that Rain plans to continue entering projects in the regional History Day competition.

“Every year, he’s continued to help me with my writing style. He helps me with my work…he professionalizes it and has been teaching me how to get better at it. It takes a few years to write fluently, so all I can really do is practice,” Rain said.

Attending the state event gave the student a chance to hone his skills as a presenter and to see what other entrants had chosen for their topics and how they presented their projects.

“It’s the experience — every year, I’ve grown. I want to strive to be a little better every year, and next year, I’ll hopefully get a project that will make the top five,” Rain said. “That would be really cool to go to nationals someday, but I just have to take this year by year.”

He feels the biggest thing about History Day is his research — especially creating the bibliographies, because students have to do those for the projects and for a lot of things in school.

“I liked some of the different-looking styles of exhibits, and I like how people got really creative with their exhibits,” Rain added about his state History Day experience. “I thought some of those were really cool. It was fun to go, because the best part is it gives a lot of experience, and one of the best parts is that I get to teach what I’ve learned — there were two judges, and one of them had heard of the Jay Treaty, but the other had no idea that it existed. It was a sense of accomplishment when you’ve competed and all the work you’ve done is coming into use.”

Rain has a busy summer ahead, as he’s planning on exploring numerous new hobbies. “I’ve got my career immersion program, band, guitar lessons, I just got my motorcycle permit so I’ll go on a few motorcycle trips, I’m planning on some paintball, a lot of trapshooting, and I’ll also be working on another competition for parliamentary procedure in FFA so that I can be prepared for the team next year.”

Even though he’s got all that to keep him occupied, he still hopes to divine what the topic of his 2019 History Day project will be.

“I’m wanting to start on it this summer,” Rain added. “It will also give me more time management the night before so that I have to make very little adjustments. I’ve started looking at topics — next year’s theme is ‘Triumphs and Tragedies in History’, and it’s hard to find a really good topic that not everybody knows. It’s hard to think of a triumph and tragedy that not everybody else will think of, like I could easily do my project on the Battle of Gettysburg, but if I do too common of a project, then someone else might copy me. I have to find a project that people don’t actually know…I have to dig deeper into history.”