Carbon County students take first in National History Day competition

Courtesy Photo Fromberg team competes at Montana National History Day competition. (From Left to right) Triston Barker, Felipe Khoury, Rye Kern, Miles Guenthner, Tanner Lee, Jon Damjanovich, Kaleb Berckmoes, Trevor Vargas, Suzy Rysavy.

Students from Roberts and Fromberg brought home top prizes for their work at the Montana National History Day competition in Billings, March 29. The theme this year was “Rights and Responsibilities.”

Not only engaging students in history, National History Day encourages students to conduct primary and secondary research from various sources, think critically, analyze information and draw conclusions to form a thesis. They then present their findings to judges-- either with original papers, websites, exhibits, performances or documentaries.

“It’s not only about history, it’s more about the learning process. It really helps prepare students for college,” said Fromberg History teacher, Mike Storer. “We really emphasize research. They have to analyze research and tell me why it matters and come up with their own thesis and argument as to why it’s important.”

Both Storer and Roberts History teacher, Clark Beggar believe the program has many benefits to further student learning. For their exhibit documenting the various U.S. legislative acts that limited Carbon County students take first in National History Day competition the rights for Chinese immigrants, Roberts sophomores Ryan Miller and Abraham Hernandez took first place in the senior exhibit division. By displaying their findings with old newspapers clippings, political cartoons and congressional documents, they proved their thesis that it was the responsibility of congressmen to protect the American job force and American identity.

Because of their extensive use of such documents, they were also winners of the Martha Plassman prize for best use of “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers,” an online database featuring scanned copies of old newspapers and were awarded a $500 cash prize.

The two were judged on the overall look of their display, entitled “Limiting Rights through Legislative Responsibility,” information accuracy and how well they presented their research and findings.

Although Miller and Hernandez did this project for the unique experience (they plan on pursuing a career in engineering) Beggar said, “It really gives them an understanding of what historians actually do, looking at old newspapers and journals and coming up with their own conclusions.” The idea for the topic developed at the beginning of the semester from their Chinese Language and Culture class. They initially wanted to draw examples from Montana history, but were unable to find sufficient evidence. So, they featured old newspaper clippings detailing the various acts passed by the U.S. Legislature-- the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Scott Act of 1888 and Geary Act of 1892 and included political cartoons from Thomas Nast to support their thesis.

What they found most interesting from the documents was learning about the acts people did against C h i n e s e l a b o r e r s . “Through research we found several instances where Chinese men were driven out of their homes after being attacked by violent mobs. It’s amazing the acts committed out of sheer jealousy,” Hernandez said. Ea r n i n g s u p e r i o r scores across the board, one judge commented, “You knew your topic well. Great development of the subject.”

Fromberg Schools also took home top awards.

Congratulations to the following students: sophomore, Tanner Lee received first place for his senior paper, which examined the idea of educational video games and the possible market for video games to enhance learning; Triston Barker, a sophomore, took second place for his senior paper about a WWII pilot who flew fighters to protect bombers; Suzy Rysavy, a junior took third place for her senior paper and junior Trevor Vargas won first place for senior individual website on Metallica. The team from Roberts and individuals from Fromberg did qualify to go to nationals in Washington D.C. With the cost of the trip, $2,800 per person, those wishing to donate are advised to call the schools.