Three Tennessee students received national honors at the annual National History Day (NHD) competition held at the University of Maryland in College Park earlier this month.
Rebecca Derby and Rachel Emond of Sevierville were awarded first place in the Senior Group Exhibit category for their project “Ignition of a Revolution,” which detailed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the subsequent reforms. Rebecca and Rachel attend Sevier County High School and Jeffrey Williams is their teacher.
The Legacy Prize, sponsored by the Creativity Foundation, is awarded each year to young, gifted individuals in recognition of their unique creative talents and dedication to public service. NHD selected Brittany Wilharm of Springfield for this honor. Next year, Brittany will represent Tennessee and NHD at a roundtable in Washington, D.C. Brittany attends Wilharm Homeschool and her teacher is Sharon Wilharm. Her web site, “The Revolutionary Decision Which Sparked a Skeptical Reaction and the Landmark Surgery Which Made Ephraim McDowell the Father of Ovariotomy,” presented the pioneering work of Dr. McDowell.
Representing Tennessee at this year’s national competition were 50 middle and high school students who developed entries based on this year’s theme: Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History. The 33 entries included documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and web sites. The Tennessee delegation began the week with a pizza party, followed by the opening ceremony. The students had the opportunity to tour the U.S. Capitol, meet with Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker and attend a private reception at the National Museum of American History.
“I am proud of all our students,” said Tennessee History Day coordinator Jennifer C. Core. “I’m impressed by how they turn themselves into experts on their selected topics and how they incorporate constructive feedback into each revision of their projects. They are learning how to examine sources critically and how to present their findings to a sophisticated audience.”
“Congratulations to an outstanding group of young Tennesseans who represented our state with distinction in this year’s National History Day competition,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “We were fortunate to have three national award winners this year – Rebecca Derby and Rachel Emond of Sevier County and Brittany Wilharm of Robertson County. I commend them, as well as the ‘best in state’ award winners and all of the students who made the trip to Maryland for the competition. Research has shown that students who participate in History Day generally do better in school than their peers and become more active and engaged citizens when they reach adulthood. That is perhaps the best prize of all.”
Six students received affiliate (state) honors.
The Salute to Freedom Award, sponsored by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, went to Lane Crouse-Helford of Siegel Middle School in Murfreesboro. Heather Warmuth and Sonya Cox are his teachers. Lane entered an additional essay contest to qualify for this prize, which will allow him to attend the opening of the U.S. Freedom Pavilion next January. Lane will interact with other young military scholars and will present his findings on Tennessee’s role during World War II.
Marisa Rozzi, Rishika Singh, and Rebecca Zielinski were selected to exhibit their project, “‘The Beautiful and the Damned’: The Flapper Cultural Revolution,” at the National Museum of American History. Marisa, Rishika, and Rebecca attend Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis. Dr. Scott Johnson is their teacher.
Hadley Peters of Knoxville was recognized as the Best Affiliate Entry, Junior Division, for her web site, “The Reform of the Tennessee Walking Horse.” Hadley attends Concord Christian School. Tammy Lightholder is her teacher. While at NHD, Hadley was invited to meet with former U.S. Sen. Joe Tydings (D-MD) to discuss her research.
Olivia Brown’s paper, “‘The Country Needed Men’: The Story of Female Soldiers during the Civil War,” received the Best Affiliate Entry, Senior Division award. Olivia attends University School of Nashville. Patricia Miletich is her teacher.
The best affiliate entry prizes are awarded to the top ranking projects from each state.
Two teachers were recognized as Tennessee’s Patricia Behring Teachers of the Year: Rachel Eckleson of Pine View School in Rockwood and Barbara Marks of Watertown High School in Watertown.
NHD is a yearlong academic organization for middle and high school students focused on the teaching and learning of history. A recent study by Rockman, et al found students who participate in NHD develop a range of college and career-ready skills and outperform their peers on state standardized tests in multiple subjects, including reading, science, math and social studies. The program engages 5,000 students across the state of Tennessee. Tennessee History Day is coordinated by the Tennessee Historical Society, with support from Tennessee Secretary Hargett’s office and Humanities Tennessee.