SPRING HILL — For Explorer K-8 eighth-grader Miranda Heath, the moment of truth was at hand as she stepped into the room where a panel of judges waited to hear her historical skit.
For weeks, Heath rehearsed, making sure her presentation didn't go over the alloted 10 minutes. She worked hours on her monologue, built props and even learned to knit to accurately to capture the spirit of her subject, Abigail Adams.
The 13-year-old, who was making her first attempt at the annual Hernando County History Fair at Springstead High School on Saturday, said she chose the wife of the second American president, John Adams, mainly because she didn't think anyone else would.
Heath spent hours researching Adams' storied advocacy of women's rights during the late 1700s. She studied biographical essays and read correspondence.
"I think what made her important in history was that she was ahead of her time," Miranda said.
It makes history fair organizer Suzanne Bates-Miranda happy to hear such observations from youngsters. The Springstead High history teacher loves to see students enthralled by the past.
"Some kids consider history boring and inconsequential, and that's sad," Bates-Miranda said. "I think that the fair gives students a unique opportunity to explore people whose lives have had a major effect on their own."
This year's fair drew about 175 students from the county's middle and high schools, all vying to go to the state finals in Tallahassee in May. This year's theme, The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies, asked entrants to explore a specific subject whose place in history was defined by both the time they lived in and the circumstances that made them famous.
Rules allowed students to work in one of five categories: historical paper, exhibit, documentary presentation, performance and Web design. All entries, no matter what category, had to include a detailed explanation of the students' research as well as an annotated bibliography showing information sources.
Of course, not every subject was history book material.
Springstead ninth-graders Elaina Schnyderite and Tia Zakers decided to trace the impact of Elvis Presley, cleverly highlighted on a plywood foldout display made to resemble a 1950s-era jukebox, which they entered in the senior exhibit category.
"It was fun putting it all together," said Zakers, who, along with her partner decorated the display with photos and factoids detailing Presley's music and film career.
Other pop culture figures featured in the category included the Beatles and McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.
The top two winners from each category will go on the state competition.
Logan Neill can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1435.