Iowa Students Take First Place in National History Day Competition in Maryland

For immediate release June 16, 2005



Jeff Morgan, (515) 281-3858,

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – Four Iowa students took first place today at the annual National History Day competition held this week at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. More than 2,000 students from across the country competed in the weeklong event.

National History Day is an exciting academic-enrichment program that helps students learn about historical issues, ideas, people, and events. The year-long academic adventure fosters students’ enthusiasm for learning and their love for history. The program encourages students to use primary, secondary, community and statewide resources on a subject of their choice related to an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.”

In Iowa, the road to Maryland began in February when more than 3,500 students competed at the regional level; about 600 of them moved on to the state competition in May, with 50 advancing to the national competition.

“The quality and diversity of their work exceeded our expectations,” said Naomi Peuse, state coordinator for National History Day in Iowa. “This is such an amazing outcome for the National History Day in Iowa delegation. It is an outstanding comment on the quality of education and ability of Iowa’s students.”

Iowa’s first-place winners include:

Storm Lake Middle School students Kristi Davis & Justine Scarbrough won first place for their Junior Group Documentary entitled, “Circuit Chautauqua: Culture, Companionship, and Education Under Canvas.” Davis and Scarbrough made extensive use of the University of Iowa special collections during the course of their research and discovered quickly that “History Day is really fun, difficult at times, but really, really fun.” Their teacher is Roberta Moore.

Marshalltown High School senior Sarah Frese won first place for her Senior Individual Exhibit, “The Iowa Bystander: Fighting for Equality in the Press.” “National History Day has opened so many doors for me this year,” Frese said. “I exhibited my project at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, fine-tuned skills that will help me in my future, and met many amazing people. It is great to see something I have spent so much time on receive national recognition.” Sarah’s teacher is Millie Frese.

Marshalltown High School student Stephen Frese won first place with his Senior Historical Paper, “Divided By a Common Language: The Babel Proclamation and its Impact in Iowa History.” Frese has won a total of four medals in the historical paper category since beginning his participation in 2002. Frese was able to relate his research on the Babel Proclamation to the current Official Language Act using past and present resources. Frese’s teacher is Scott Johnson.

Fifteen other Iowa students were recognized as national finalists:

· Akron-Westfield Community Schools students David Parkinson, Rachel Black, Annie Kjar, Allie Lanning, and Rebecca Meerdink placed fourth and received the Junior Division Outstanding State Award for their Junior Group Performance, “Tinker v. Des Moines: A Key to Understanding Students’ Struggle to Communicate their Rights.” Their teacher is Valorie Philips.

· Valley High School students Amy Paul and Katie Pauley placed fifth and received the Senior Division Outstanding State Award with their Senior Group Documentary, “Democratic Communication: Helen Thomas, the Press, and the President.” Their teacher is Kathy Paul.

· North Tama County High School student David Morrison placed fifth with his Senior Individual Documentary entitled, “Ding Darling: Communicator, Cartoonist, Conservationist.” Morrison’s teachers are Rozella Stull and Judy Morrison.

· Wayne Community School students Melissa Ewing, Andy Perkins and Breanne Carpenter placed 11th with their Senior Group Exhibit, “The Warren Report: Communicating the Truth.” Their teacher is Mike Jones.

· North Scott Junior High students Kristyn Griesbach and Katelyn Tharp placed 12th with their Junior Group Documentary, “Jacques-Yves Cousteau: Communicating His Message to the World.” Their teacher is Chris Green.

· North Scott Junior High student Susan Leslie placed 13th with her Junior Individual Exhibit, “Sarah Gillespie Huftalen: Communication Rural Education.” Her teacher is Chris Green.

· Akron-Westfield Community School student Katherine Tindall placed 13th with her Junior Individual Performance, “Sequoyah: Giving the Cherokee People a Key to Understanding Written Communication.” Tindall’s teacher is Colleen Westergard

Kathryn Skilton of Nashua-Plainfield Community Schools was also recognized with the History of the American Presidency, a special award sponsored by the Truman Library Institute. Skilton’s teacher is Suzan Turner.

Each year, National History Day serves more than 700,000 students in grades 6-12 across the United States. NHD requires rigorous research, analysis and creative presentation of historical conclusions. National History Day in Iowa is sponsored by the State Historical Society of Iowa, with major funding from the State Historical Society, Inc., a federal earmark sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, the Cargill Corporation, and the American Legion of Iowa Foundation.


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