Milestone: Peninsula youths earn history awards

North Olympic History Center awards 2020 Hands on History Scholarships

orth Olympic History Center Awards 2020 Hands on History Scholarships

Despite disruptions caused by the pandemic, three North Olympic Peninsula students researched and wrote essays on local history and recently presented their work to a small, socially distanced audience of family and North Olympic History Center (NOHC) volunteers at the historic Lincoln School building in west Port Angeles. This year, all students won college scholarships. Aiden Gale in the senior division was awarded a $1,500 scholarship and the two junior division entrants, Celbie Karjalainen and Tes Karjalainen, were each awarded a $500 scholarship.

Every year since 2017, the Education Committee of the NOHC, formerly the Clallam County Historical Society, has hosted Hands on History for Clallam County youth. The program was founded by board member Patrick Noonan. The students are introduced to the NOHC’s research library on its campus at 933 W 9th Street in Port Angeles where they meet with research librarians, choose a topic, and learn essay research and writing techniques. In pre-pandemic years, the Hands on History presentations and scholarship awards happened in April, but this year’s pandemic delayed the culminating event.

Hands on History students may attend any type of school, public, private, home school, or online. The junior division is for people in 6th to 8th grade and the senior division is for high-school students.

Hands on History senior division winner Aiden Gale wrote an essay titled “The Wonderful North Olympic History Center (CCHS) NOHC.” Aiden discovered that the NOHC’s roots are in the Pioneer Association, a Clallam County group organized in 1906 by retired county residents. More than 40 years later, a small group of women that included Minerva Troy proposed the creation of a museum. They had their first meeting on December 3, 1948, at Holmer’s Café in Port Angeles at 105 W 1st Street—now occupied by Brocante—making the Clallam County Historical Society official. The organization changed its name to the North Olympic History Center in 2018.

The junior division winners, Celbie Karjalainen and Tes Karjalainen, researched, respectively, West End Clallam County resident Minnie Peterson (1897-1989) and “Clallam County Families in the Great Depression.” Peterson is the subject of the book Women to Reckon With: Untamed Women of the Olympic Wilderness by her grandchildren Gary Peterson and Glynda Schaad.

Awarded scholarships are held in escrow until the awardee enrolls in post-secondary school when the funds are transferred to the educational institution for the benefit of the student. For questions about Hands on History, the NOHC, or to donate to the scholarship fund, please email artifact@olypen.com or call (360) 452-2662.

The NOHC Education Committee will determine how to proceed with the 2021 Hands on History program in the coming months.

[Attached photo by Larry Lang; L-R: Aiden Gale, Tes Karjalainen, Celbie Karjalainen]

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