DANVILLE, KY - Centre College has launched a comprehensive Web site on the vice presidency, offering a wealth of information for history buffs along with instructional tools for teachers and students. The site (vpcentre.net) features a trivia quiz, photos, biographical sketches, and suggested lesson plans for high school teachers.
Centre has sponsored the site as part of preparations for this year's vice presidential debate, which will be held Thursday, Oct. 5, on the Centre campus. Centre also boasts two vice presidents among its own alumni, John Breckinridge (V.P. 1857-61 under President Buchanan) and Adlai Stevenson (V.P. 1893-97 under President Cleveland).
Research and writing for the Web site was completed by two Centre graduates, Mary Quinn Kerbaugh, a 1998 honor graduate with double majors in history and French, and Mary Freear Williams, a 1977 graduate and former communications officer with the Kentucky League of Cities.
A Lexington firm, buzzword, inc., provided design services for the site, which Kerbaugh describes as having "elements of fun and interactivity targeted for high school students."
"The Web site explores all facets of the vice presidency," says Kerbaugh, "including roles and responsibilities of the office, the people who served, curious anecdotes and amazing accomplishments. The information covers a broad spectrum of facts and ideas."
Williams developed the teacher lesson plans for the site, including one segment entitled "What's Going On?" For that segment, students are challenged to take a single decade of U.S. history and understand how the vice presidents of that era dealt with unusual events and circumstances across the nation.
The teacher's section also includes bibliographies, selected readings, discussion ideas, class activities and writing prompts.
One of Kerbaugh's favorite aspects of the site is the trivia quiz. Among the questions: Which vice president was more than 70 years old when he decided to marry while in office? Which vice president won the Nobel Peace Prize? Which vice president had Native American ancestry and worked as a horse racing jockey before taking office?
After hours of research, Kerbaugh admits that the vice president she'd most like to meet is Alben Barkley, a Kentuckian who served as vice president under Harry Truman. "Barkley was so beloved and admired that he must have been a remarkable person," says Kerbaugh, who also notes that the entire Barkley family had a way with words. "Barkley coined the term 'New Deal' for Roosevelt's administration, and it was Barkley's grandson who came up with the word 'Veep' as an affectionate nickname."
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Public information coordinator: Patsi Barnes Trollinger