Five Washington students recently showed they might have the stuff to be the next Ken Burns.
The Washington State Historical Society coordinates Washington History Day, which features an annual contest for students in grades 6-12 throughout the state. The Washington State Archives supports History Day by having staff volunteer to serve as contest judges.
The contest encourages students to become historians by developing research, analysis, presentation and social skills. Working individually or in groups, students select a topic related to an annual theme. This year’s theme was “Taking a Stand in History.” Students conduct extensive historical research using primary sources, articles, and books, then distill their research and analysis into a dramatic performance, multimedia documentary, museum exhibit, website, or research paper.
Four students who were named state champions in this year’s contest came to the State Archives Building on Olympia’s Capitol Campus last week to present their history projects before State Archivist Steve Excell, former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, family members and others.
Kingston Middle School students Kyler Coe-Yarr, Thomas Brown and Curtis Upton earned the Junior Division Award for “outstanding use of regional and local archives collections.” The Kingston trio created a website entitled “The Olympia Hunger Marches: Marching Against Hunger.” Their teacher is May Lou Macala.
Courtney Beyer from Pleasant Valley Middle School in Battle Ground received the Junior Division State Archivist’s Award for “outstanding use of the collections of the State Government Archives.” Beyer created an exhibit called “Education for All: Four Mothers Taking a Stand for Students with Special Needs.” It tells the story of four mothers who fought to improve educational opportunities for students with special needs in the early 1970s. Beyer’s teacher is Irene Soohoo.
Earlier in May, a fifth student, Jeaziree Salise from Delta High School in Richland, received the Senior Division Award for “outstanding use of regional and local archives collection” for her website on the lawsuit between the scientists and the tribes over Kennewick Man. The project was entitled, “Taking a Stand for the Ancient One: Bonnichsen et al. v. the United States.” Salise was honored at the Digital Archives/Eastern Regional Branch Archives in Cheney. Her teacher is David Blacketer.
Students in the contest utilized original source materials at the State Archives or one of its Regional Archives facilities to complete their award-winning research projects.
Judging for the state contest level took place April 29 at Green River College. Students who reached the state level had competed in History Day regional competitions in February or March.
Students who finish in first and second place at the state level in each category go on to the national contest, held in mid-June at the University of Maryland in College Park.