Two Tennessee students received national honors at the annual National History Day competition that was held last week at the University of Maryland in College Park.
National History Day medalists
Emma Thompson and Ibtihal Malley
The Legacy Award went to Emma Grace Thompson of Tellico Plains for her film "'Rough in the Bunch': Appalachia's Rayon Girls Fight for the Right to Strike." Emma also received first place in the Senior Individual Documentary category. This is Emma's sixth trip to National History Day and her third national award. Emma recently graduated from the Berean Christian School Independent Study Program. Sharron Thompson is her teacher. As part of the Legacy Award, Emma will travel to Washington, D.C. in April and participate in a roundtable discussion with other young scholars from the different academic disciplines.
Ibtihal Malley of Memphis was recognized with a silver medal for her Junior Individual Paper, "Palestine: Refugee Rights and International Responsibilities." Ibtihal makes a triumphant return to National History Day, where she placed fourth in 2013, just out of the medals. Ibtihal attends Pleasant View Academy in Memphis. Her teacher is Andre Clarke.
Representing Tennessee at this year's national competition were 58 middle and high school students who developed entries based on this year's theme: Rights and Responsibilities in History. The 35 entries included documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances, and websites.
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 attend a private reception at the National Museum of American History.
"Once again, the Volunteer State has been well-represented at National History Day," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I'm proud of all of our students who participated, particularly those who received national honors. Students who participate in History Day will be better citizens and better leaders after they reach adulthood."
The Secretary of State's office is one of the sponsors for Tennessee History Day, the qualifying competition for Tennessee students who wish to participate in National History Day. Tennessee History Day is coordinated by the Tennessee Historical Society, with support from Secretary Hargett's office and Humanities Tennessee.
"The National History Day curriculum allows students to explore topics in depth," said Tennessee History Day coordinator Jennifer C. Core. "Participating in Tennessee History Day and competing in the national contest turns students into historians. They become experts, not only on their selected topics, but also on research methods. The students learn critical thinking skills that will benefit them for the rest of their academic careers."
In addition to the national prize winners, two students were selected to exhibit their project at the National Museum of American History. Nick Drago and Jacob Levy presented their Senior Group Exhibit, " ‘Honor, Being a Warrior and Protecting my Homeland’: The Rights and Responsibilities of Native American Code Talkers," to museum visitors. Nick and Jacob attend Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, where Scott Johnson is their teacher.
Seth Eckleson of Pine View Elementary in Rockwood and Emma Grace Thompson of Berean Christian School Independent Study Program in Tellico Plains were invited to attend a Congressional breakfast showcasing projects devoted to local history. Seth's Junior Individual Documentary, "Camp Crossville: Responsible for Guaranteeing Prisoner of War Rights During World War II,: is his third film devoted to Tennessee history. Seth's teacher is Rachel Eckleson.
Two students were also recognized for having the best entries from Tennessee.
Eli Thompson of Tellico Plains was recognized as the Best Affiliate Entry, Junior Division, for his Junior Individual Exhibit, "The Go Public Campaign: The Rights of POWs and The Responsibility of the U.S. Government." Eli attends Berean Christian School Independent Study Program where Sharron Thompson is his teacher.
"Andrew Jackson, John Ross and the Rights of the Cherokee," the Senior Individual Performance from Andrew Sabin of Chattanooga, received the Best Affiliate Entry, Senior Division award. Andrew attends Chattanooga/Red Bank Homeschool, where Maria Sabin is his teacher.
Catherine Howard, Maddie Montague, Sidney Sensing of Clarksville were ranked 10th in the nation for their Junior Group Performance, "'The Perfect 36': The Fight for Women's Suffrage in Tennessee." They attend Richview Middle School where Tabitha Wilson is their teacher.
The student-teacher team of Caley Williamson and Hillery Griffin was selected to participate in the 2014 Albert H. Small Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Student and Teacher Institute. Caley and Griffin will travel in June to Washington, D.C., where they will meet with selected participants from other states for five days of lectures and memorial visits. After their time in D.C., students and teachers will travel with National History Day staff to Normandy. Caley and Griffin are from Cosby High School in Cosby.
Two teachers were recognized as Tennessee's Patricia Behring Teachers of the Year: Chris Standridge of Northwest Middle School in Knoxville and Scott Johnson of Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis. Each received a framed certificate and $500.
Teacher Traci Erlandson of St. George's Middle School in Collierville was named a Behring Ambassador. Erlandson has been asked to find ways to expand the role of National History Day in Tennessee. She will attend a training session in August and develop curriculum for Tennessee History Day teachers.
National History Day 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 National History Day 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 7,000 students across the state of Tennessee.