Nashua-Plainfield student takes first place at 2021 National History Day contest

    Caleb Sinnwell of Nashua-Plainfield Middle School took first place in his category last week at the 2021 National History Day National Contest, which was held virtually again this year.

    Sinnwell took top honors for “Ghost Army: Deceptive Communication and the Power of Illusion” in the junior individual website category. His research and winning project focused on a U.S. Army unit that created deceptions, including fake radio transmissions and inflatable tanks, to confuse enemy forces during World War II.

    Fifteen other Iowa students were named finalists in other categories.

    In addition, Cal Levi, Kadence Huck, Paige Ranzen and Cameron Cleveland of Nashua-Plainfield were selected to participate in the student documentary showcase co-presented by National History Day and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    “Iowa’s National History Day program continues to be strong because of the time and effort our students and educators have devoted to it over the past year,” said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. “We congratulate all of our students who represented Iowa at the national level and we are proud of 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 “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.”

    Every year, students compete in a junior division (grades 6-8), senior division (grades 9-12), and a non-competitive youth division (grades 4-5). They learn important literacy skills and how to conduct research using primary, secondary, community and statewide resources. Working individually or in small groups, participants learn how to think critically and communicate through various formats while building self-confidence and 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. This year, thousands of Iowa students participated in local and district contests. Of those, 63 students from 21 schools advanced to the national finals where they competed for top honors against nearly 3,000 other students from around the world.

    Here is the list of Iowa’s national medalist and finalists:

    Medalist 

    Community: Nashua
    School: Nashua-Plainfield Middle School
    Student: Caleb Sinnwell
    Teacher: Suzy Turner
    Division & Category: Junior Individual Website
    Title: “Ghost Army: Deceptive Communication and the Power of Illusion”
    Place: First in the nation

    Finalists

    Community: Cedar Rapids
    School: Franklin Middle School
    Student: Annabelle Oval
    Teacher: Deborah Siebenga
    Division & Category: Junior Individual Performance
    Title: “The Miss American Pageant Protest of 1968: The Key to Women's Equality”
    Place: Third in the nation

    Community: Cedar Rapids
    School: George Washington High School
    Student: Jessica Cline
    Teacher: Amy Jones
    Division & Category: Senior Individual Performance
    Title: “Knowledge is Power: The Key to Understanding”
    Place: Third in the nation

    Community: Council Bluffs
    School: Abraham Lincoln High School
    Student: Dean Pope
    Teacher: Deb Masker
    Division & Category: Senior Individual Performance
    Title: “Setting a Precedent for Presidents: Radio's Role in Uplifting a Nation”
    Place: Sixth in the nation  
     
    Community: Davenport
    School: Bettendorf High School
    Students: Alivia Isaacson and Kaelee Wolf
    Teacher: Mary Heeringa
    Division & Category: Senior Group Documentary
    Title: “Rachel Carson: Communicating Environmental Concern in the Face of Sexism, Greed, and an Uninformed Public”
    Place: Seventh in the nation

    Community: Davenport
    School: Bettendorf Middle School
    Student: Ishika Motwani
    Teacher: Susan Owen
    Division & Category: Junior Individual Website
    Title: “War Drums: Echoes from the American Civil War”
    Place: 10th in the nation

    Community: Johnston
    School: Johnston High School
    Student: Anita Dinakar
    Teacher: Sue Cline
    Division & Category: Senior Individual Website
    Title: “Starring Hazel Scott: Taking a Swing at Segregation”
    Place: Third in the nation  

    Community: Nashua
    School: Nashua-Plainfield Middle School
    Students: Callahan Levi, Cameron Cleveland, Kadence Huck and Paige Franzen
    Teacher: Suzy Turner
    Division & Category: Junior Group Documentary
    Title: “From Rural RN to Healthcare Hero: Barbara Fassbinder's Passionate Plea for PPE”
    Place: 10th in the nation
    *This project was also selected to participate in the 2021 Virtual Documentary Showcase co-presented by National History Day and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Community: Orange City
    School: Unity Christian High School
    Students: Amy De Groot, Caleb TeKrony, Casey Oolman and Jane Taylor
    Teacher: Jon Holwerda
    Division & Category: Senior Group Performance
    Title: “A Study in Speech: Nature vs. Nurture and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Evaluative Labeling“
    Place: 10th in the nation

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

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