Central Iowa teen wins $100,000 at National History Day;
Eight more Iowa students earn high honors at national competition

For immediate release June 15, 2006




Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(COLLEGE PARK, MD) - Stephen Frese of Marshalltown High School received the grand prize at the National History Day awards ceremony today, a four-year, full tuition scholarship to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio valued at more than $100,000. Eight more Iowa students earned additional honors.

Frese joined 47 Iowa students in representing the state in the NHD national competition at the University of Maryland this week, competing against nearly 2,000 other national qualifiers from across the country with historical papers, exhibits, documentaries and performances. This year's theme was "Taking a Stand in History: People, Ideas, Events."

"The 48 students representing Iowa at the National History Day events in College Park had an extremely good showing this week," said State Coordinator Naomi Peuse. "Iowans should be very proud of these amazing young people. Their research successes and extraordinary stories set them apart from others their age. I couldn't be happier with the week's events."

Frese participated in the 2006 NHD competition with an original historical research paper on the life and career of Alexander Clark, a civil rights leader from Iowa. The paper is titled "From Emancipation to Equality: Alexander Clark's Stand for Civil Rights in Iowa."

Clark was a barber who moved to Iowa in 1849 and worked to improve the status of blacks in the state. He petitioned the state to rescind legislation prohibiting the immigration of free blacks. In 1863, he organized the 1st Iowa Volunteers of African Descent, a Union Army regiment of 1,100 black soldiers who served during the Civil War. Clark also served as publisher and editor of the Chicago Conservator and in 1890 received the highest presidential appointment ever offered to a black man when he became the U.S. Minister to Liberia.

"Writing papers for National History Day has helped me improve my writing skills beyond what has been required in high school classes," Frese said. "National History Day has been an amazing experience."

NHD and Case Western Reserve University present the grand prize award each year to a student who demonstrates academic excellence and dedication to historical study through competition in the NHD program. Frese's commitment to performing well in high school and in NHD pushed him to the forefront of a pool of talented individuals.

Frese also took home his fifth medal for Iowa, placing first in the historical paper category. He located countless primary source materials at the Muscatine Public Library. He will receive a $1,000 gift for winning the category. Frese's teacher is Millie Frese.

Other Iowa students receiving honors this week include the following:

Leah Bowman, a seventh grader from Summit Middle School in Johnston, took home the silver with her individual performance, "Harmony Between Races: Marion Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt Take a Stand." Bowman pooled her resources using her grandmother's hat and her great-grandmother's jewelry to portray Roosevelt and her courageous efforts toward racial equality. When asked of her experience Bowman said, "I am so relieved to know I didn't suffer through a hair net, clip-on earrings and fake collars for nothing." Bowman's second place medal comes with a $500 prize. Her teacher is Connie Pruitt.

Rachelle Edgar, a senior from Marshalltown High School, placed third with her individual exhibit, " ‘…A Persistent Pioneer': In Africa, Norman Borlaug Stands Against Hunger." Edgar met with Borlaug during the research process for an in-depth look at his life and work. She said her experience "isn't boring, you get to relive the exciting, life-changing events of the past in a fun way." Her prize comes with a $250 gift. Edgar's teacher is Scott Johnson.

Allison Koch, an eighth grader from Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids, placed third with her individual documentary, "No Choice but to Resist: Diet Eman's Stand Against the Nazi Regime." Eman, a Dutch Resistance worker during the Holocaust, caught Koch's attention when she read the autobiography Things We Couldn't Say during her summer holiday. She followed up with a personal interview and called the experience "very special." Koch's prize is $250. Her teacher is Shirley Jarzombek.

Tyler Cahill and Nolan Swanson, North Scott Junior High students from Eldridge, also placed third with their group documentary, "Jackie Robinson: Taking a Stand for African-Americans, Baseball, and Beyond." The duo investigated countless sources covering Robinson's baseball career and later civil rights efforts. Swanson noted, "It is awesome to be part of NHD." Their teacher is Chris Green.

Matt Pacha and Cory Greenleaf of North Scott Junior High placed eighth and won the Junior Division Outstanding State Award for their group exhibit, "The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster: Taking a Stand for Mining Safety." Pacha and Greenleaf visited Cherry, Illinois for a better sense of the topic and its impact. Greenleaf said, "NHD is a very fun experience." Their teacher is Chris Green.

David Morrison, a senior from North Tama Community High School in Traer, placed 10th and won the Senior Division Outstanding State Award for his individual documentary, "John L. Lewis: Taking a Stand for Workers' Rights." Morrison made extensive use of collections at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City during the course of his research. He was "very honored to receive this award which culminates my five years of NHD." His teachers are Judy Morrison and Roz Stull.

Chris Parcher, a junior from Northwood-Kensett High School, received the Jamestown Award for his individual performance, "Sugihara." He will receive a trip to the settlement for its 400th Anniversary Celebration. Parcher, a long time NHD participant, has attended the national event for three years. His teacher is Deborah Nagle.

Kristyn Griesbach, a seventh grader from North Scott Junior High in Eldridge, received the Civil War Award for her historical paper, "A Necessary Measure: Abraham Lincoln's Suspension of Habeas Corpus." Griesbach said "NHD is really important to me because I get the opportunity to see how all the events in the world unfolded and I learn how to analyze it to create a research project to share with others." Her teacher is Chris Green.

NHD is a yearlong, nonprofit education organization dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of history in elementary and secondary schools through publications and education programs. The program annually involves millions of people and makes history come alive for students across the United States. Through the program, students develop critical thinking and research skills by creating exhibits, performances, documentaries and papers they enter in competitions at the district, state and national levels.

NHD provides educational services to teachers, including curricular materials and Internet resources, and annual teacher workshops and training institutes. More than 2,000 students from 49 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and Department of Defense schools participated in the 2006 NHD competition.

NHD in Iowa has been coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa since 1994. Major funding comes from the State Historical Society of Iowa, Inc. of Iowa City, a federal earmark, the American Legion of Iowa Foundation and Cargill. More information about NHD in Iowa is available at www.iowahistory.org or by contacting Naomi Peuse at 515-281-6860 or naomi.peuse@iowa.gov.

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.


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