Three win at state History Day contest


On to nationals

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - At the state History Day awards are, from left, advisor Courtney Lupton, Thyreicia Rowedan Simtustus, Miss Oregon Marneet Lewis, Madalyn Breach, and Carly Breach.Three local students captured first-place awards at the state National History Day contest, April 12, at Concordia University in Portland, which qualifies them to compete at the national finals in June.

The research theme for this year’s contest was “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”

State winners from the 509-J School District included Jefferson County Middle School eighth-grader Madalyn Breach, whose display, “Helen Keller: Improving the Rights of the Sensory Impaired,” was first in junior individual exhibits.

At Madras High School, freshman Thyreicia Rowedan Simtustus won a first for her senior individual exhibit, “American Indian Movement: Native Americans Fighting for Native Rights;” and freshman Carly Breach took a first for her senior paper on “Kennewick Man and the Rights for Scientists to Study Ancient Remains.”

Breach also won a $500 special prize for having the best project with an Oregon/Northwest theme. This will be her second trip to the national contest.

Begun in 1996 in the 509-J District, and facilitated by the Talented and Gifted Program teacher Courtney Lupton, the National History Day contest involved up to 50 local students until 2007, when the Oregon Historical Society stopped sponsoring it, due to budget cuts.

Lupton, with the help of a Jefferson County Cultural Coalition grant, continued to run an Oregon History Day contest for seventh- and eighth-graders, then two years ago, the Oregon Historical Society refunded the National History Day program again for students in grades six through 12. One student, Breach, competed at state from our region last year.

“This was the first year for a really great, sponsored state contest with lots of participation. The judges were all professors from Concordia University and it was very competitive,” Lupton said.

Funded locally by a $900 Jefferson County Cultural Coalition grant, National History Day program is offered as an academic enrichment option, and is open to all students, not just TAG students. The funds were used for project supplies and materials and costs to travel to the state contest.

“Twenty kids started projects in November. We work during `stolen moments' after school and on weekends,” Lupton said. Students met at the MHS computer lab to research and develop their entries.

The year-long competition makes history come alive for students by engaging them in the discovery of the historical, cultural and social experiences of the past. They must do their own research, using libraries, archives, museums, historic sites and interviews with elders.

After analyzing and interpreting their research, students present their conclusions through a paper, exhibit, performance, website or documentary, which is entered in the contest.

“We ended up with these three at spring break, and they committed to go to the state contest and all won,” Lupton said.

The students are now doing fundraising to attend the national competition, June 14-19, at the University of Maryland at College Park, Md., near Washington, D.C. While she has sent several students to nationals over the years, this will be the first year that Lupton will be going herself as a chaperon. The 509-J District is paying for food and lodging, but students must raise funds for airfare.