October 25, 2014
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Local students make history in own right on National History Day

At least 40 students from local elementary and secondary schools recently earned awards for their efforts in the annual National History Day (NHD) in Rhode Island competition, a highly regarded academic program that asks students to choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. Projects are entered into competitions in the spring at state and national levels, where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park. Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in the NHD contest.

Winners from Warwick Veterans Memorial High School include Hannah Ellis, who placed third in the state for her exhibit “Miranda Rights,” Gillian Tiley and Christine Nguyen, who earned second place in the state for their performance “Pearl Harbor: The Catalyst that Led to America’s Involvement in WWII,” Catherine Tiley, who won second place in the state for her documentary “Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal: Growing Trust in America,” as well as Stephanie Racca, who took home first place for her website “Let There Be Light! Nikola Tesla Turns the World Around with Alternating Current.” Elizabeth White, Sloan Kinney and Catherine Tiley earned Rhode Island Labor History Awards, while Michelle Spremulli, Taylor Axtmann and Saragrace Plante earned RISSA Awards.

Medalists from Winman Junior High include Gabrielle Bianco, who finished third in the state for her exhibit “The Peace Corps,” as well as James Burke and Marcus Alexander, who won first place in the state for their exhibit “The Berlin Wall.” Lauren Kellerman took home a Rhode Island Labor History Award.

Gorton Junior High students earned awards, as well. William Hindinger finished third in the state for his documentary entitled “Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.” Nicole Racca finished second in the state for her website entitled “Rock and Roll: Spinning a New Style of Music in the ’50s.” Angus Nathan and David Cerullo finished second in the state for their documentary, “The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 Alters America’s Labor Force,” and Brittney Boyd, Brianna Boyd, Julia French, Ann Wajda and Natasha Savage finished first for their historical performance, “The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory First Turns New York in the Most Progressive in Terms of Labor Reform.” Along with the Boyd sisters, French, Wajda and Savage, as well as Michelle Gold, David Cerullo and Angus Nathan, won Rhode Island Labor History Awards, while Michael Lautieri, Rhianna Bellows, Madison Bastan and Anastasia Welch earned RISSA Awards.

Alexandrea Pouliot of Aldrich Junior High also earned a RISSA Award.

Students from a few other schools placed, as well, such as Jenna Carmichael of Hoxsie, who won second place for her performance “Newsboy Strike of 1899: The Strike that Shook New York. Carmichael also won a Rhode Island Labor History Award, as did Wyman student Francesca Maroni, who earned first place for performance “The Tragic Fire of 1911,” while students from St. Peters Matthew Forcino and Jay Dejesus earned second place for their website “The Fall of the Berlin Wall.”


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