SMS students win state History Day cup

Local youths are making history with history - again.

After a successful showing at a state competition April 25 Sequim students are sending five eighth-graders and a high school sophomore to the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., scheduled for June 13-18.

History Day is a nationwide project that encourages students to dig deeply into historical subjects and get firsthand accounts of subjects often skimmed over or ignored by history books.

On April 25, Sequim's schools sent 27 students in either individual or group (two-person) divisions to the state History Day event at Green River Community College in Auburn, each vying for a chance to advance to the national event. The top two in each category advance to nationals while third-place finishers are named alternates.

With four projects in the top-two places and six others making the finals, Sequim students took top honors among all Washington middle schools, the "Outstanding Middle School" cup.

At the state competition, eighth-grader Trevor Consoliver took first place in the Junior (middle school level) Individual Exhibit division, with his project "John Davison Rockefeller: America's Most Hated Businessman and Most Beloved Philanthropist."

Classmate Emily Carel took second place in the Junior Individual Performance with her project "'WASPs Among Eagles:' Jackie Cochran's Perseverance and the Flight of Women," while Emily and Kaitlin Heike took second in the Junior Group Exhibit with "Pack and the Victory Gardens," a project about Charles Lathrop Pack and his promotion of "victory gardens" in World War I that evolved to "war gardens" in World War II.

Hillary Smith, who placed third at the national event last year with a paper about pioneering politician Belva Lockwood, makes a return trip to nationals after placing second in the Junior Historical Paper division. Her project was "Fiction That Altered History: Harriet Beecher Stowe Ignites a Passion for Abolition."

Each of Sequim's advancing middle school students studies under teacher Tricia Billes.

She said Sequim's History Day success comes from two things: the fact that each seventh- and eighth-grade student is required to do a project and the competitiveness of History Day.

"We have a schoolwide culture - kids all know they're going to do History Day," Billes said. "I think the fact that there's a competition inspires some kids to take the research to a level they never thought they could before."

Also making the trip to nationals is Keihl Sundt, a sophomore at Sequim High School who took third in the Individual Documentary division with his project about Edward R. Murrow. He also earned an award from the Washington State Historical Museum.

"We always send our alternates (to nationals)," Billes said.

"We have high school kids that keep doing it even though there's no official History Day program at the school," she said.

Several Sequim students came close to qualifying for nationals, including: Ariana Flores ("Charles Hamilton Huston: The Man Who Killed Jim Crow," Junior Individual Exhibit); Amber Burnside ("Abigail Adams: Empowerment of Women," Junior Web sites division); Derek Chamblin ("Thomas Edison," Junior Individual Exhibit); Samantha Schock and Kortney Oen ("Dr. Seuss: 'Least Likely to Succeed,'" Junior Group Exhibit); Courtney Cassal and Anna Mittmann ("We're Still Laughing, Lucy!" a project about Lucille Ball, Junior Group Exhibit); and Natalie Stevenson and Mollie Smith ("Rosie the Riveter: Women in a Man's workplace Making a Difference in World War II," Junior Group Performance).

Burnside's project earned a special award for colonial history while Smith and Stevenson's performance earned the First Gentleman's Award, earning them a trip to the governor's mansion hosted by Mike Gregoire, husband of Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Sequim students held several fundraisers just to make the trip to the state event. Those who qualified for nationals now have a new hurdle to face: raising enough funds by June to make the trip to Maryland.

"That's the scary thing in this (economic) climate," Billes said, noting the trip might total $8,000-$9,000 for the group to go.

While there, students tour the historic landmarks of the nation's capital in Washington, D.C., while competing for top places and prizes.

"That," Billes said," is the prize."

Headed to History Day nationals

• Trevor Consoliver (eighth grade) - individual exhibit, first place (Rockefeller)

• Emily and Kaitlin Heike (eighth grade) - group exhibit, second place (started victory garden)

• Hillary Smith (eighth grade) - individual paper, second place (Harriet Beecher Stowe)

• Emily Carel (eighth grade) - individual performance, second place (Jackie Cochrane, started Air Force pilots)

• Keihl Sundt (10th grade) - individual video, second place (Edward R. Murrow)

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