Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)
One of the hardest things about History Fair is awarding the prizes. In a perfect world, students would enter because they love history and want to achieve. Unfortunately, they compete because their teacher requires it or because they want to win a prize. With almost 1300 students participating each year, we give out about 300 awards. They are mostly plaques on all kinds of subjects from A-Z or at least, Agricultural History to World History. There is a constant stream of students up and off the stage at the awards program. It takes over an hour to complete. Sometimes, I think it would be easier just to print the awards on Frisbees and fling them out into the audience. Whoever catches one, gets to take home the prize! Thankfully, I am not a judge, so I don’t have to evaluate the entries. That job of deciding what is the best is not mine. Over 100 people from all walks of life in our community spend hours watching documentaries, viewing performances, reading papers and examining exhibit boards. The judges give us recommendations for awards and then, we have to sort out who should get what. Depending on a student’s savvy, they might pick a topic that would qualify as Florida History, Black History, Native American History, Best Use of Theme, Best Original Research or a myriad of other combinations. We only give one prize per entry in order to stretch them as far as we can and ensure that more students go home as winners. My work is to figure out which prize is best for each entry. Should this get Women in Early America Prize or should it get Women’s History Prize? Or would History of Law Prize be a better choice? While I may not think the entry deserves a prize, as it may not meet my standards that is not my call. I am only there to distribute them according to the wishes of the judges. A lot of how they decide is subjective, an issue I constantly have to explain to parents who think it is not fair if their child does not win! I also train the judges and try to set criteria for what they should be looking for, but if someone has a cute exhibit board covered in teddy bears, but no history, it may score just as well as one with solid research because “those teddy bears are just so cute.” Sometimes, in our lives, we worry about what others will think of us. We want to please and seek the reward of their words, company, gifts or other things that make us feel good about ourselves. Yet the prize that we live for is a heavenly one. We work to please God, to serve and glorify Him. That may mean that we never walk across an awards stage here on this earth. But, someday, we will see our Savior face to face and that will be the greatest prize of all.