Three Writers Win Trip to State National History Day Contest

March 21, 2014

Thirty-six sophomores from Ms. Chesley's English 2 Honors classes participated in the district contest of National History Day March 12 on the UNK campus.  At the end of the day, Lexington students swept the Senior Division Historical Paper category.

First place winner Ellie Hobelman wrote "The Fight for the Rights of the Incurables."  Second place winner John Mark Shields wrote "Rights and Responsibilities:  Natural Selection v. Natural Love," and third place winner Joelly Anderson wrote "The Berlin Wall." 

Students spent the previous month researching and writing papers of 1500-2500 words with annotated bibliographies of both their primary and secondary sources.  Students chose their own topics to fit within the theme of "Rights and Responsibilities."  They could choose any topic of interest, either a national or world event, as long as it had a distinct historical focus and could be discussed in terms of the rights and responsibilities of its participants.

A few of the broad range of topics the students chose were the rights and responsibilities of those involved in the Salem Witch Trials, the purges of the Stalin era, and even the infamous pirates of the Caribbean.  Key figures included in topic papers ranged from national figures Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman to foreign leaders Indira Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. 

All papers were sent to the University of Nebraska at Kearney on February 28 to be read and evaluated by three History professors.  On the day of the competition each student met with one of seven UNK professors for an interview session.  The professors asked about their choice of topic, their use of primary sources, and gave them feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their papers.

Blake Casper wrote on how the rights and responsibilities of World War II soldiers in the European and Pacific theatres were different because of their captors' application of the Geneva Conventions.  Casper recalled the best part of the day: "It was a great time learning ways to improve my writing and to converse with Professor Biggs, who was amazing because of his knowledge he was able to share with me." 

Joelly Anderson, one of the winners in the Senior Division, was surprised when she heard her name announced.  "My evaluator, Professor Roger Davis, helped me with suggestions to improve my paper.  I am honored and excited to make improvements and compete again."

Lexington students came away with extra information about their topics and a lot of compliments.  Director of the event, Dr. James Rohrer, complimented Lexington's "serious students," and how "polite and well prepared" students were in their interviews.  Lexington Public Schools was well represented at both the middle school and high school levels and was encouraged to participate again next year. 

Javier Betancourt summed up the day this way:  "The awards allowed me to see a room where all the writers and participants came together in celebration of good writing."

The three winners have another week before they will resubmit their papers for judging at the state contest on April 12.  Winners at the state level compete in the National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland in June.

Ellie Hobelman won first, John Mark Shields second, and Joelly Anderson third in the recent National History Day contest.

4th period English 2 Honors

6th period English 2 Honors

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