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Utah Students Excel at National History Day Contest

Ten 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 held last week.

Utah’s top finishers:

Third Place: Kelsey Hagman, Brighton High School (Sandy): “The Kansas-Nebraska Act: Compromise Turned to Conflict,” Senior Individual Website.

Fourth Place: Caitlin Radovan, Thomas Edison Charter School South (Nibley): “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg: Fight for Gender Equality and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” Junior Individual Website.

Fourth Place: Andrew Smaellie and Thomas Varghese, The Waterford School (Sandy): “Steve Jobs vs. Apple: The Conflict and Compromise that Changed the Technology World,” Junior Group Website.

Eighth Place: 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.

Honorable Mention:

  • Jacob Simmons, Brighton High School (Sandy): “Rabin of Israel: A Story of War and Peace”
  • Kasper Nilsson, Waterford School (Sandy): “Conflict Over Civil Rights: The Compromise of the Birmingham Retailers”
  • Gracyn Killpack, Thomas Edison Charter School South (Logan): “Want Beer? It’s Not Here: The Conflict and Compromise of Prohibition in the United States”
  • Kallie Kunz and Allie Jorgensen, Lakeridge Junior High School (Orem): “Rocking the Civil Rights Movement: The Little Rock Nine”

National Museum of American History National History Day Exhibit Showcase
Faith Moua, Mountain Heights Academy (West Valley City), “The Secret War’s Secret: The U.S. Hmong Alliance”

National Museum of African-American History and Culture NHD Documentary Showcase:

  • Kasper Nilsson, Waterford School (Sandy): “Conflict Over Civil Rights: The Compromise of the Birmingham Retailers”
  • Lily Frame and Esme Smith, Waterford School (Sandy): “Women’s Suffrage in Utah: Conflict Between Federal Government, the LDS Church, and the State Government”

Forty-five Utah students competed at nationals. Their original historical research projects centered on the theme “Conflict and Compromise in History.” During the rigorous week of competition, the students toured the U.S. Capitol and met with Senator Mike Lee.

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.