A group of students made their presence known at the regional competition held for National History Day.
A group of 48 students, including elementary and high school students, took part in activities held earlier this month at the Heinz History Center, during which they captured a number of first, second and third place honors in various categories.
They were among more than 400 contestants from Pittsburgh-area schools.
Vaughn Dailey, a middle school history teacher, coordinated the Peters Township contestants who took part in the competition. It is part of a voluntary effort of the students, he said.
“We’ve been doing this program since 1980,” Dailey said. “It’s a volunteer club after school and when it comes time for the annual competition, just about everyone wants to be involved. It’s a 31-year legacy at the school.”
This year’s group included students from sixth through 10th-grade.
Dailey said there was a considerable amount of preparation for the competition that was done with students attending the club meetings.
“There are a number of multi-media presentations that they follow in terms of what the theme of the competition will be, and what the different contest categories will be,” Dailey said. “This year’s theme was Debate and Diplomacy in History. We discussed what comprises debate, and what is diplomacy.”
Dailey said that other areas covered are building exhibits and websites, creating documentaries and live performances, as well as developing historic papers. In previous years, Dailey made personal house calls to all the participants. This year, because of a recent heart surgery, Dailey stayed in touch with students online.
“They emailed me their websites and documentaries, in addition to pictures of their exhibits,” he said. “We did that through my recovery process even before I was allowed to drive again, and that was pretty cool.”
The preparation process paid off for the students, who shared in the top honors. In all, 10 students took home medals and in some cases, cash awards, with the chance to advance to the next level of competition.
First place honors went to 10th-grade students Joshua Bowman, Joshua Larimer and Jason Lee, for their documentary entitled, “Chemical and Biological Weapons: Where Diplomacy Meets Research.”
Eighth-grade students Delaney Wehn and Annie Koch won first place for their group exhibit entitled, ”In Vain Do I Try To Soar.”
Second place honors went to 10th-grade students Brett DiCello and Jeff Bergman for their group performance entitled, “Negotiate or Annihilate? Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates.”
The third place award went to eighth-grade student Meredith Rohn, for her individual exhibit entitled, “Returning the Wolves to Yellowstone,” and seventh-graders Matthias Campion and Dylan Grosz took third place honors for their group exhibit entitled, “Stopped in their Tracks: The Great Railroad Strike of 1877.”
“I’m just so proud of these kids and the way they performed,” Dailey said. “They put in a ton of work to prepare for this. They’ve always impressed me with their poise, their knowledge and just their pleasant demeanor when they’re talking to the judges."
"They’ve had quite a legacy to live up to at Peters, and we’re looking for them to do well in the next phase of competition."
The winners from Peters Township will advance to statewide competition at Millersville University on May 11-12. More than 600 students from around the state will be taking part.
“Our history team has had quite a legacy over the years,” Dailey said. “In the past, students have gone onto the national competition, and have won scholarships to places such as Case Western Reserve University. We’re continuing to look for good things from this group of students this year.”