COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Eight Utah middle- and high-school students placed among the top entries in the nation at the annual National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland, College Park. These exceptional young historians placed in the Top Ten in their categories among 3,000 competitors at the national meet.
Utah’s top finishers:
Outstanding Junior State Entry: Zachary Jessop, Midvale Middle School (Salt Lake): “Each Life is Worth a World: Gil and Eleanor Kraus and the Rescue of Fifty Jewish Children from Nazi Germany,” Junior Individual Documentary.
Outstanding Senior State Entry: Asher Ireland, Timberline Middle School (Alpine): “When the Jews Stood up to Grant: The Story of General Order No. 11,” Senior Individual Performance.
National Top Ten Entry: Hattie Ransom, Timberline Middle School (Alpine): “Andree de Jongh’s Stand: Rebellion and Resistance Against the Nazis During World War II,” 8th Place Junior Individual Website.
George Washington Leadership in History Prize:Tyler Pierce, Bethany Prettyman, Katie Snow, Mersedez Clifford, and Tessa Atwood, Carbon High School (Price): “The Secret Heroes of the American Revolution: The Culper Spy Ring’s Stand for Freedom,” Senior Group Documentary. Prize sponsored by Mount Vernon.
Fifty-nine Utah students qualified to compete at nationals (pictures) at the annual state competition, held in April. Their original historical research projects centered on the theme, “Taking a Stand in History.” During the rigorous week of competition, the students also toured the nation’s capitol and met with Senator Mike Lee and Congressman Rob Bishop. Utah’s National History Day program encourages students to delve into the past through historical research, critical thinking, and presentation. Students may choose a topic from local, national, or world history, ranging from politics and war to science, social history, and the arts. They then create museum-style exhibits, historical performances, original websites, documentary films, and research papers to showcase their work. Entries are judged in a series of competitions beginning at the local level and culminating in the national contest held each June.
“History Day is an exciting way to engage students and teachers in the study of historical issues, people and events,” said Wendy Rex-Atzet, state coordinator for the Utah History Day program. “This program truly makes history come to life for young people by offering the freedom to choose a meaningful topic, and then giving them the research and analytical tools they need to discover the past on their own.”
Utah History Day is the state’s official National History Day affiliate. Formerly called Utah History Fair, this program has operated continuously in Utah since 1980. The program was originally developed and housed at Utah State University. In 2014 it was transferred to the Utah Division of State History in Salt Lake City.
“Through History Day, students develop a deeper understanding of the past, along with better reading, writing, analytical, and presentation skills that translate to success in many other disciplines,” Division of State History Director Brad Westwood said.