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Self Reflection

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One Saturday morning, in the waning weeks of the 8th grade, I walked into a local museum with a handful of classmates and our history teacher. In our arms, we carried large cardboard displays, and in our minds, naive hopes alongside cynical expectations. Entering the main hall, we awkwardly shuffled through crowds of students and rows of tables until we found our designated spots. I found my name printed on a card and I placed my project behind it, in between two others. After ensuring my tri-fold display wouldn’t fall over, I realigned my tie, and made my way over to my peers. I found them next to a life-size antique locomotive replica. Glancing around, I certainly felt like I was on a train. There must have been a couple hundred people moving in all directions. After joking around a bit to relieve some tension, we took a moment to reflect on how we got to that point. We were taking part in that year’s National History Day competition, an annual event in which students across the country create projects based on a selected historical theme, and show them off to advance to state and national levels. Just before the second semester ended, we were recruited by our history teacher. That year, the theme was “Legacy and Leadership”. I made my topic the Air Force Academy. Looking back on my display, it was little more than a glorified advertisement for the school, but I was proud of it. We all felt that way, especially considering we had to spend months researching, planning, and
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