Iowa students win top honors at National History Day finals

    Six Iowa students are celebrating this week after winning top honors at the 2020 National History Day national finals held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Addison Naslund, Ben Philips, Hayden Wahlberg, Josie Jacobs and Lainey Schuknecht of Akron-Westfield Middle School won first place for their documentary "Rural Electrification: Breaking Barriers with the Flip of a Switch." Jessica Cline of Washington High School of Cedar Rapids took third place for her performance in "Breaking Barriers: Concept Over Craft – Or – What the Mutt?" an artistic movement that focuses on concept over craft.

    In addition, a documentary created by Anjali Kumar and Eshaan Chandani of Johnston Middle School has been selected for the 2020 Digital Documentary Showcase hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The showcase, including Kumar and Chandani's "One Woman's Vision: Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Race for Equality," will run through June 24 and can be streamed online at s.si.edu/NHDShowcase2020.

    “Iowa has a strong National History Day program because of the dedication of students and educators across the state," State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. "We are proud of our student participants who represented Iowa well on the national level and congratulate them on their achievements."

    National History Day is a year-long academic enrichment program that challenges students to research, develop and present papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances about historical topics related to an annual theme. This year’s theme was “Breaking Barriers in History.”

    Students compete in a Junior Division (grades 6-8), Senior Division (grades 9-12), and a non-competitive Youth Division (grades 4-5). Students learn important literacy skills and how to conduct research using primary, secondary, community and statewide resources. Working individually or in groups of two to five, they develop the following attributes that are essential for future success:

    • critical thinking and problem-solving skills
    • research and reading skills
    • oral and written communication skills
    • presentation skills
    • self-esteem and confidence
    • a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

    More than half a million middle and high school students around the world participate in the program each year.

    Iowa sent 69 students to this year's national finals where they competed for top honors against nearly 3,000 other students from around the world. The list of this year’s National History Day medalists and finalists in the junior and senior divisions from Iowa follows:

    MEDALISTS:

    Junior Group Documentary
    Students: Addison Naslund, Ben Philips, Hayden Wahlberg, Josie Jacobs and Lainey Schuknecht
    School: Akron-Westfield Middle School (Akron)
    Title: "Rural Electrification: Breaking Barriers with the Flip of a Switch"
    First Place

    Senior Individual Performance
    Students: Jessica Cline
    School: Washington High School (Cedar Rapids)
    Title:"Breaking Barriers: Concept Over Craft – Or – What The Mutt?"
    Third Place

    FINALISTS

    Junior Group Exhibit
    Students: Audrey Carlson, Ava Brunner, Brylie Butrick and Jordyn Rowley
    School: Southeast Valley Middle School (Burnside)
    Title: "C'mon, Catch Up USA: School Integration in Iowa"
    Placed 8th in the final round

    Senior Individual Documentary
    Students: Anna Newby
    School: Abraham Lincoln High School (Council Bluffs)
    Title: "Getting to Sesame Street: Fifty Years of Breaking Barriers Along the Way"
    Placed 8th in the final round

    Senior Paper
    Student: Katie Prichard
    School: Charles City High School (Charles City)
    Title: "Ola Babcock Miller: Circumventing Political Barriers for the Benefit of Public Safety"
    Placed 10th in the final round

    Senior Group Documentary
    Students: Anjali Kumar and Eshaan Chandani
    School: Johnston High School (Johnston)
    Title: "One Woman's Vision: Eunice Kennedy Shriver's Race for Equality"
    Placed 4th in the final round

    The National History Day in Iowa program has been coordinated since 1994 by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is sponsored by State Historical Society, Inc.; Principal Financial Group; Bravo Greater Des Moines; Prairie Meadows and Luther College.

    More information is available at iowaculture.gov.

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    The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations. iowaculture.gov

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