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Students Represent Utah Well At National History Day Competition

Thursday, Jul. 03, 2008

Utah History Fair students with Utah's congressional delegation

Members of Utah's congressional delegation (lower left) met with a group of Utah students who participated at the National History Day competition. Senators Hatch and Bennett and Rep. Matheson met with the students.

Utah History Fair Director Nicholas Demas and Mikaela Wagner

Utah History Fair Director Nicholas Demas with Mikaela Wagner of Tabiona, Utah, in front of her project display at National History Day 2008. Mikaela's father, a teacher, participated at National History Day when he was a student.

Zara Zemmels of Salt Lake City’s West High School placed first in the nation in the Senior Individual Performance category at the 2008 National History Day Competition held June 15-19 in College Park, Md., with her award-winning project “Parental Advisory: Music Censorship vs. Creative Expression.”

Zemmels was among the Utah students who traveled to the competition after participating in the Utah History Fair, an outreach program of Utah State University’s Mountain West Center for Regional Studies.
Three Utah students placed in the top 10 of their individual categories at the 2008 event, where six students with five projects competed in the final round. The students’ successes brought an end to the 2007-08 Utah History Fair season.
Nearly 60 students represented the state of Utah at the national competition, and placing five projects in the finals was a major accomplishment, said Nicholas Demas, director of the Utah History Fair. For the first time this year, top students at the competition qualified for scholarships provided by USU’s Admissions office.
The path to the National History Day competition is an arduous road.
Utah’s students participate first at the school level, then gather at one of 10 regional competitions held throughout the state. Top regional students move on to the state level where the national representatives are selected.
The Utah History Fair allows students in grades 4-12 to create research-related history projects. The National History Day competition limits the contestants to 6-12-graders.
Students choose a category that reflects their interests and relates to the specific theme for the NHD competition. Students can compete in eight categories — historical paper, individual documentary, group documentary, individual performance, group performance, individual exhibit, group exhibit and, new to the 2007-08 season, the Web site category. The 2008 National History Day theme was “Conflict and Compromise.”
“Students competing in the Utah History Fair and National History Day explore areas of history that reflect their curiosity, locality or heritage,” Demas said. “Students often research topics that reflect their personality.”
In order to be competitive, the students must apply critical thinking skills, exceptional writing, creativity, organization and historical research methodology skills, Demas said.
“The students who participated at the National History Day competition exhibited all these skills,” he said.
Demas works year round coordinating the Utah History Fair. Once the year’s theme is set, he establishes guidelines, provides research tips and updates the Web site. During the academic year, he makes school visits where he provides an overview of the program, and in 2007-08 he met with more than 3,000 students throughout the state. He also coordinates efforts with teachers, communicates regularly via a newsletter and is responsible for recruiting the corps of volunteer judges who play an important role in evaluating the students’ works.
Utah students in the final round at the 2008 National History Day competition include: Zara ZemmelsSenior Individual Performance, West High School, Salt Lake City, First Place; Julia and Johnathon StockSenior Group Exhibit, LIGHT Educational Co-op (homeschool), Sandy, Seventh Place and Outstanding State Entry Award for the Senior Division; Amelia WeixlerJunior Individual Performance, Bryant Middle School, Salt Lake City, Ninth Place and Outstanding State Entry Award for Junior age division; Haley ParkerSenior Individual Paper, San Juan High School, Blanding, Twelfth Place; and Kaden GrovesJunior Individual Documentary, American Fork Junior High School, American Fork, Thirteenth Place and winner of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Early American History Award.
In addition to the sponsorship at Utah State University, the Utah History Fair is funded in part by the Utah Division of State History, the Utah Humanities Council, the Qwest Foundation and the National History Day’s Utah affiliate.
For information on the Utah History Fair visit its Web site or contact Demas at USU at (435) 797-3633.
Contact: Nick Demas (435) 797-3633
Source: Utah History Fair

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