Local students head to Maryland for National History Day finals

by | May 4, 2016

For UMSL's Peter Acsay, who coordinates the St. Louis regional contest each year, it's gratifying to see young people doing the kinds of things professional historians do.
Poster chat

Isiah Shavers, a student at St. Margaret of Scotland School in St. Louis, discusses his National History Day exhibit about Benjamin Banneker with a judge during the regional competition at UMSL earlier this spring. (Photos courtesy Peter Acsay)

Five area students from among the hundreds who descended on the University of Missouri–St. Louis earlier this semester for the National History Day district contest are headed to nationals this summer.

The advancing students, who finished in first or second place in their respective categories at the state competition April 30, will travel next month to the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., for the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day finals June 12 to 16.

Classmates in costume

Costumed classmates (from left) Grace Goeddel, Annie Higgs, Bella Hogrebe and Gillian Neal, of St. Raphael the Archangel School, performed “Clara Barton: Encounter with Humanity” at UMSL on Feb. 27.

“Every year I am inspired by the work and passion the students bring to their National History Day projects,” said Peter Acsay, associate teaching professor in the Department of History and coordinator of Missouri’s Region 5 contest, which is sponsored as well as hosted by UMSL. “It is gratifying to follow some of these projects from the St. Louis region to success at the state level and beyond. But I am just as impressed by the many who do not advance but have on their own researched and developed an entry.”

Among those representing St. Louis in the nation’s capital this summer are Evan Cox of St. Margaret of Scotland School in St. Louis and Hannah Decker, Bridget Farrell, Tabitha Wilkerson and Jared Wilmas, all of Pattonville High School. Cox, whose teacher is John Adams, finished second at state with his entry “Herman Cortes and the Conquest of Mexico.”

Decker and Farrell finished first at state with their group documentary “The Fight to Flight: Amelia Earhart.” Their teacher, Janet Baldwin, also teaches Wilmas, who finished first at state with his website “The Fastest Innovators on Earth.” Wilkerson was the second-place finisher in the same category, with her website “Auguste Piccard: Encountering and Exploring the Unknown.”

Project pride

Pattonville High School student Shalyn Scheer presented her exhibit “Madame C.J. Walker” at the regional competition sponsored by UMSL.

UMSL’s Department of History will offer a clinic for those advancing to the nationals, Acsay said, adding that he’s excited to see how they will do at the final competition for the year.

“This is as hands-on as it gets,” he said. “These middle and high school students make the transition from being ‘consumers’ to ‘producers’ of history. That is impressive.”

Student who finished in third place at the state competition will serve as alternates. Those representing the St. Louis region include Ben Khotsyphon, Lilly Mitchell and Abby Wingron of St. Raphael the Archangel School for their “Berlin Airlift” entry; Julia Arbanas of Kirkwood High School for her “War of Cultures: American Ballet During the Cold War” exhibit; and Deanna Schmidt of Cor Jesu Academy for “Encountering Desegregation,” a senior historical paper.

Making the state run-offs were Thaliyah Mosley of Westview Middle School, LeeAnn Rout of Jefferson Northwest R-1, Jillienne Hays of Pattonville High School, Audrey Kelly and Celia Rose of Kirkwood High School, Hannah Myers of Jefferson Northwest R-1, and Sophie Lodes, Holly Shah and Maggie Kutz of St. Joseph’s Academy.

National History Day is the nation’s leading program for history education in schools, annually engaging 2 million people in the U.S., Puerto Rico and overseas. For more information on the St. Louis contest sponsored by UMSL Admissions, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Advanced Credit Program and the Department of History, contact Acsay at acsayp@umsl.edu.

Evie Hemphill

Evie Hemphill