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Wisconsin Heights students compete in National History Day


July 4, 2019

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This year, students in Kathy Haig's research class have had unprecedented success at the regional and state National History Day competitions. Fifteen students traveled to the regional event in February, and by the end of the day ten students came away as state competition qualifiers. Riley Lynch, Kaya Teela, and Kourtney Mercer qualified with their documentary, Civil War: Triumph and Tragedy in Camp Randall; Laine Gaffney and Elias Schuetz qualified with their website on the history of Mazomanie; Kylie Bartell qualified with her exhibit about the world's response famine in Somalia in the 1980's; Anna Ring, Alta Jacobus, and Maisey Gullickson qualified with their exhibit about the triumphs and tragedies of the Hungarian Revolution; and Emma Schaefer qualified with her documentary entitled, Endurance: The Tragedy of the Great Famine, the Triumph of Irish Settlement in America. "According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, over 16,000 students from across the state participate in National History Day, but only three entries in each category are selected to compete in the state competition, so it is quite impressive for two thirds of a single small class to dominate the competition in this way!" said Kathy Haig. "All of the students in the class worked very hard on their projects, doing massive amounts of historical research using both primary and secondary sources and then arranging and rearranging their information to find the best possible way to present it. I'm very proud of their efforts and of their success!" At the state competition in April, 2019, Wisconsin Heights produced its second-ever nationals qualifier! Emma Schaefer's documentary was selected as one of the two best documentaries in the state to represent Wisconsin at the annual National History Day competition, held at the University of Maryland College Park Campus in the Washington, D.C. area June 9-13, 2019. "Emma's documentary represents many hours of painstaking historical research, personal interviews, writing, revising and editing. She used primary documents for most of her research, combing through family histories and census records as well as databases and the internet. She also met with descendants of many of the immigrants featured in her documentary and with historians who offered her guidance in researching and in putting her documentary together," said Kathy Haig, Emma's teacher. National History Day is the nation's leading educational program for history education in the schools. Each fall more than half a million students nationwide begin the year-long National History Day program, competing in a series of history contests in their local districts and states.  The top students in each category are selected for participation in the national contest. Over 16,000 students complete a project statewide and just over fifty students represent Wisconsin annually at the national contest. Participating students choose their own topics of study and research from original sources based on the theme, Triumph & Tragedy in History. National History Day students research historic documents and artifacts, conduct oral histories, search the Internet for information on their topics, and travel to historic sites.  They present their work in a variety of ways, by creating museum-type exhibits, video documentaries, creative websites, original performances, or traditional research papers. More than 300 historians and other education professionals evaluate the students' work at the national competition. More than $150,000 worth of scholarships are awarded at the national awards ceremony to select students, and approximately 100 students take home cash prizes between $250 and $5,000 for superior work in a particular category of judging. The Wisconsin Historical Society facilitates National History Day in Wisconsin. The program serves students in grades 6- 12, with separate categories for the Junior Division (grades 6-8) and Senior Division (grades 9-12). In each division, students have the option to create individual or group projects whether for competition, as a class assignment or during an after-school club. National History Day also provides educational services to students and teachers, including a summer internship program, curricular materials and Internet resources, and annual teacher workshops and training institutes. Top, all the students who qualified for the state competition. Left to right, they are Elias Schuetz, Laine Gaffney, Kaya Teela, Kourtney Mercer, Riley Lynch, Alta Jacobus, Anna Ring, Maisey Gullickson, and Emma Schaefer. Below, Kathy Haig and Emma Schaefer, when Schaefer qualified for Nationals.

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