Local Students Take First and Second In Kansas History Day

Adelynn Nolan, left, and Katelyn Dancer perform their history presentation. Submitted photo.

Students are still working on school competitions, even in the pandemic.

For some local students, the work paid off with earning the right to go to nationals. However, the pandemic has stopped them from physically going to College Park, Maryland to the national competition.

“They were disappointed,” Fort Scott Junior High and High School Enrichment Teacher Angie Kemmerer said.

The Kansas History Day Competition was held online this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  Fort Scott Middle School had six students and Fort Scott High School had one student compete by submitting four projects in all.
Four students from this group took first and second in the junior group performance category.
“It’s unusual for one school to take first and second in the same category,” Angie Kemmerer said.
This year’s theme was “Breaking Barriers in History”.
“Students engaged in intense historical research using primary and secondary sources, visited the World War I Museum and the Edward Jones Historical Research Library, and conducted interviews to develop their projects,” Kemmerer said.
“Even though their time was cut short due to school closures from the epidemic, each of these students continued to work on their projects from home,” she said.   “As the competition changed from an in-person to a virtual format, students adjusted to the new requirements for each of their chosen categories.”
FSMS seventh-graders Caroline Barnes and Madelyn Cook created a junior group exhibit titled “Fly Girls” featuring women that broke barriers by being the first Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Jacqueline Cochran formed the WASPs, Ola Mildred Rexroat was the first and only Native American WASP, and Hazel Ying Lee was the first of two Asian women and died in service without military recognition.  Deanie Parrish is one of the original WASP’s who is still alive. This groups of brave women inspired generations of women to follow in their footsteps like Nancy, Deanie’s daughter, who joined the military. The WASPs were part of the push for women to have equal rights as men, even if they didn’t realize it at the time, according to information provided by Kemmerer.

FSHS freshman Katelyn Leavell did a senior individual performance on unsung hero Anna Coleman Ladd titled: “Breaking the Barrier of Social Stigma: Anna Coleman Ladd and the First World War”.

“My project relates to this year’s theme because social stigma is one of the most prominent and hard to overcome barriers in society,” Leavell said. “My project focuses primarily on this barrier and the stigma of disabled WWI veterans. The barrier of social stigma based on physical disfigurements from combat was the hardest to break. Anna’s artistry and mask-making abilities covered the problem areas for a soldier so the world couldn’t see that part of them. With the newfound confidence, the men were able to find themselves and overcome that stigma. Though many were buried with their masks, they still had the confidence through their lives to go out into the world, unrestricted by physical barriers and social anxiety.”

Qualifying for the National History Day Competition in the junior group performance category are the two Fort Scott Middle School groups; eighth-graders Katelin Dancer/ Adelynn Nolan and Kaitlin Hardwick/ Regen Wells.
First place in the junior group performance category was Music to Everyone’s Ears: How Motown Broke Society’s Barriers by Katelyn Dancer and Adelynn Nolan.

The group knew they wanted to choose a topic that challenged the normal thought process and related to the theme in a creative way, according to information provided by Kemmerer.  The group’s first ideas consisted of artists, scientists, and musicians- people who broke barriers on a smaller scale and within their career field.   In the end, they decided on Motown because it included that artistic charm.

The most difficult aspect of the project was the script, and was rewritten four times before it was finalized.

Motown’s sound played an important role in demolishing the barrier of race that previously divided the country. Black and white audiences alike attended Motown concerts.  Motown also had a significant influence on the music industry, bringing about modern forms of musical production, management, and style.

Second place in the junior group performance category:  From Soldiers Heart to PTSD: Breaking the Barriers Around Mental Health by Kaitlin Hardwick and Regen Wells
Kaitlyn Hardwick, left, and Regen Wells perform their history day presentation. Submitted photos.

 While doing research on disabled American veterans,  the group found multiple articles pertaining to the topic of mental health within soldiers and veterans of WWI. After more research, they decided that they would choose the development and social acceptance of mental health, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in soldiers and veterans of major wars.

The stigmatized barrier around the acceptance of PTSD in our society as a mental disorder was the topic chosen. People who had the disorder were shunned and undiagnosed and it was seen as a flaw.

The project was a performance about the journey to overcoming this stigma, highlighting several moments on the path to PTSD recognition. In the groups performance, they discussed the effect of PTSD on veterans of the Civil War, in WWI, WWII, the Vietnam War, and how it has evolved over time into what it is today.
PTSD  has developed from an unknown mental illness that was not treated, to a treatable condition in not only veterans, but in survivors of trauma such as sexual assault, abuse, natural disasters and accidents.
It is estimated that 3.5 percent of U.S. adults have PTSD. Approximately, 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD within their lifetime. So much has happened to bring PTSD into societal acceptance, and not just in America. All around the world the barrier has been diminished for getting help for mental illness.
About National History Day

The range of NHD topics encompasses all disciplines and all areas of the world, according to the information provided. These projects speak volumes on how this program promotes global awareness. But it also fosters self-awareness, and creative real-world problem solving that can lead students to understand how each one of us has the potential to positively impact our world. 

“NHD allows students to experience the exhilaration that comes from being innovative thinkers and producers.” Kemmerer said.” As their teacher, I hope these experiences help them realize they have the potential to change the world for the better — and the skills to do it.

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