Kennedy Parish found out about the annual Oregon History Day competition, hosted by Oregon Historical Society, on a whim one day when she was looking for extracurricular activities.
"I've always loved history a lot," said the Tigard High School sophomore. "I Googled 'contests in Oregon' and I found it, and I was like, I'm going to enter."
Parish participated in the statewide competition for high school students held at Concordia University in April — and won first place in the individual exhibit category, earning a spot at the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C., which takes place June 11 through June 15.
This year's theme is "Taking a Stand," so Parish chose The Longest Walk as her subject matter. In 1978, a group of Native American activists walked from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in protest of a slate of bills that would have infringed on their land and water rights, and cut off social services for Native Americans.
"Throughout all the classes I've taken, nobody's ever talked about Native American activism," Parish said. "I took it upon myself to look it up, because you always hear about how Americans took all of (the Native Americans') land and treated them so badly, but we never learned how they stood up for themselves."
Parish said that an unusual element in her exhibit's design likely caught the attention of the judges.
"Most of them were on posters, where I made mine more like an actual exhibit, where they're standing and it's not on a poster board, it's on a platform," she said. "And I made figures that could actually move, signifying the Longest Walk."
Parish was coached by her United States history teacher at Tigard High, Danette Rowe, and likely will be accompanied by her mother on the Washington, D.C., trip.
Tigard High is donating all the money raised from Powdertuff, the boys' volleyball program, to help fund their trip, and they also have a GoFundMe page set up.
Parish is putting some finishing touches on her exhibit before bringing it across the country. And it may end up staying there long-term, as the Oregon Historical Society nominated it to be shown at The National American History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Parish has long had a love of history — she especially enjoys learning about ancient Greek and Roman culture — but she isn't sure what she wants to study in college yet. That said, there's a strong chance that this isn't the last exhibit she'll be working on.
"I'm pretty excited," she said about the competition in D.C. "If I could create exhibits all day, I would."
To learn more about the competition and support Parish's trip, visit https://www.gofundme.com/kennedys-trip-to-dc.