From famous people like Teddy Roosevelt to ordinary individuals like Philip Johnston; from well-known historical events such as the Salem Witch Trials to obscure incidents such as the desegregation of public schools in Clinton, Tennessee – Hernando county middle and high school students showed off their knowledge and creativity at the annual History Fair.
The expo took place on Saturday, February 4 at Springstead High School. Organized by local middle and high school teachers, it is affiliated with National History Day (www.nhd.org). NHD offers year-long academic programs that encourage students around the world to conduct original research on an historical topic. The students create a project based on their research and are then judged. The concept is similar to a science fair. This year’s theme was Taking a Stand in History. (www.nhd.org/sites/default/files/2017-Theme-Narrative-Sample-Topics_0.pdf)
The young people worked diligently on their projects for several months, often sacrificing weekends and staying up into the wee hours of the morning.
Lori Aleo, an eighth grade history teacher at Powell Middle School stated, “They are encouraged to be creative. They can choose several different approaches: writing a paper, making an exhibit, doing a performance, filming a documentary or creating a website.”
Students work as individuals or in a group and separate prizes are awarded to each. Middle and high school students are judged separately. First and second prize winners advance to the state competition; winners there move on to the national competition.
William An, a ninth grade student at Springstead High School, filmed a documentary entitled Tearing Down the Wall of Segregation. It told the story of a group of students in Clinton, Tennessee who helped desegregate the schools of that town in 1956 (one year before the more well-known Little Rock case).
District Coordinator of the history fair, Suzanne Miranda bragged that the film was “PBS quality.”
After viewing the documentary, a group of judges made up of teachers and former history fair winners, asked William such questions as how he chose his topic and how he located his primary sources. They also gave him suggestions on ways to improve his project.
Speaking to William, I asked him about his experience in filmmaking.
“Last year I placed first in Hernando county and third at the state level. This year I’m hoping to get at least second place at the state level so I can go on to the national competition.”
At the end of the day, William was one step closer to his goal. He won first place in the senior individual documentary division, along with best overall project. Now that he has qualified for the state level, William will be working hard to improve his film so he can make it to the national competition in a few months.
Alexandria Crane, an eighth grader at Challenger K-8 School, had another creative project. Her topic was the Salem Witch trials. It consisted of a poster board with wooden dowels in front representing a jail. Alexandria won second place in her division, qualifying her for the state competition, as well.
Placing first in their division and first over all other middle schools were Michael Hughes and Ellie Brannan, eighth graders from Winding Waters K-8 School. They produced a documentary called Kings of New York about the 1899 strike of newspaper boys in New York City. The Broadway play, Newsies, is based on this event.
“Michael and Ellie worked on their project until 3 a.m. sometimes and then had to drag themselves to school in the morning,” commented Michael’s father, Kiff Hughes.
Other interesting projects included topics on Philip Johnston, who convinced the U.S. Army to utilize the Navajo language as a secret code during World War II and Betty Friedan, a leader in the women’s rights movement.
The defection of Soviet ballet dancers to the United States in the 1960’s was the theme of Hailey André’s project, a student at Springstead High School. She won second place in her division and will be advancing to the state competition.
Below is a list of the winners of the 2017 Hernando County History Fair. Congratulations to all these students and good luck to those who go on to the state and national competitions.
Middle School Competition
Category: Individual Exhibits
1st Place: The Right to Run Hannah Appleton (Challenger K-8)
2nd Place: Defiance in Salem Alexandria Crane (Challenger)
3rd: Human Trafficking Alexandria Ratton (Powell)
4th: Taking a Stand in Secrecy: Phillip Johnson Viviane Padilla
Category: Group Exhibits
1st: Alice Paul Taking a Stand for Suffrage; Tabitha Hernandez, Sydney Hernandez (Winding Waters K-8)
2nd: A Fight Where Fists Weren’t the Answer; Sabrina Carter, Willniya Waddy (Winding Waters)
3rd: Rosa Parks; Hannah Taylor, Gabrielle Healis, Kimberly Lam
4th The Words that Effected a War; Jasmine Martinez, Adam Corona, David Battan
Junior Individual Websites
1st: Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change; Hayley Crews (Winding Waters)
2nd: Taking a Shot Angitha Reji (Challenger)
3rd: The Right to Write; Kushi Patel (Challenger)
1st 911- Taking a Stand Against Terrorism; Kali Christie (Parrott Middle School)
2nd: Before Rosa Parks; Emilee Stratman (Parrott)
3rd: Nancy Reagan; Liel Shacher (Winding Waters)
1st: Kings of New York; Ellie Brannan, Michael Hughes (Winding Waters)
(Best of Show- for Junior Division)
1st: Paper Perversity; Haven Anderson (Challenger)
1st- FDR vs. the Great Depression Brent Hatfield; Parrott
1st-The Family that Saved Suffrage Alexis Bowermaster, Miranda Mays, Ashlyn Hull, Noah Barone (Winding Waters)
Senior Division (High School Competition) District History Fair Results
Category: Individual Exhibits
1st- Emma Goldman; Abigal Kizer Weeki Wachee High School
2nd- The Defection of Soviet Ballet Dancers; Hailey Andre; Springstead High School
3rd- Teddy Roosevelt: The Conservation Crusader; Evan Bronhard Weeki Wachee High School
4th- Betty Freidan; Hailey Busciliio Springstead High School
Category: Group Exhibits
1st- Leningrad : Standing Up When the City is Falling Down; Belicia Torres, Kyra Riggins; Springstead
2nd- Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution; John and David Parker Springstead
3rd- Standing up Against the British: The Boston Tea Party Nicholas Ferry, Dylan Thomas, Preston Hornun; Weeki Wachee HS
4th The Boston Tea Party and Its Consequences; Emily Prali, Antonio Canale Weeki Wachee HS
Category: Individual Performance
1st- Handel and Death of the Italian Opera; Zane Faillace-Garren Weeki Wachee HS
Category: Historical Papers
1st- Standing in the Way of Communist China: The Gateway of Heavenly Peace Moses Diaz; Springstead
2nd- Taking a Stand in History: The Armenian Genocide; Noah Beringer Springstead
3rd- The Stonewall Riots The Start of a Revolution; Courtney Delfei; Weeki Wachee HS
4th The Boxer Rebellion: China’s Last Stand Against Westernization Nicholaus Rahman Weeki Wachee HS
Category: Sr Group Performances
1st- Taking a Step into History: South African Gumboot; Madeline Jean-Marie, Jasmine Jean-Marie, Natalia Vargas, Victoria Perrneira; Weeki Wachee HS
2nd- The Romanov Family: Taking a stand for Imperia Russia Ariella Lombardi, Adrian Borg, Charles Erwin, Leah Bamber; Springstead
3rd- Roe vs Wade; Rebecca Ortiz, Miguel Ulgasan, Antara Islam, Grace Flaugher, Brooke Johnson; Springstead
Category: Individual Websites
1st- Dorthea Dix Taking a Stand for Women, Convicts and the Mentally Ill Mikhaela Anderson Weeki Wachee HS
2nd- The Velvet Revolution; George Maska Springstead
3rd- Oskar Schindler; Lesley Bahn Springstead
Categories: Group Websites
1st The Baltic Resistance Alvin Nguyen, Amadeus Reif, Dylan Palmer; Springstead
2nd- Feminism in Japan; Arriana Alvarez, Alexis Rodriguez; Springstead
3rd- The Japanese Defense of Okinawa Ana Torres and Daniel Emmanuel Weeki Wachee HS
4th- The Texas Revolution; Merrick Ryan, David Wu, Bernard Nynum Weeki Wachee HS
Category: Individual Documentaries
1st - Tearing Down the Wall of Segregation: The Clinton 12; William An Springstead
(This was best of show in senior division)
2nd- Fidel Castro: History Will Absolve Me- Daniel Fernandez; Springstead
1st - Blood and Sand: The Muhahideen and the Fight for Afghanistan; Dustin Faulkenberry, Will Rainsberger, Antonio Belavilas, Stefanos Belavilas, Jonathan Cunningham Springstead