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Utah Students Do Well at National History Day

Thursday, Jun. 20, 2013

Utah History Fair students at National History Day competition

Utah's student delegation enters the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland College Park for the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest. (photo courtesy Nicholas Demas)

History fair group at U.S. Capitol

The Utah student delegation gathers on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for a photo session with Sen. Hatch and Rep. Bishop (far left). (photo courtesy Nicholas Demas)

Utah History Fair group with Rep. Matheson at the U.S. Capitol

Students and parents talk with Rep. Matheson outside the Capitol. (photo courtesy Nicholas Demas)

Utah delegation on the Univrsity of Maryland College Park campus

Several students from the Utah delegation posed with parents (holding the banner) on the campus of the University of Maryland College Park, just outside the nation's capital. (photo courtesy Nicholas Demas)

Every year the Utah History Fair, based at Utah State University, encourages Utah students to participate in hands-on learning experiences that culminate in regional competitions where projects are evaluated. Each region’s top student projects go on to the Utah History Fair and from there, top students travel to the Washington, D.C., area to compete at the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest.

The national contest concluded Thursday, June 13, with an awards ceremony, and Utah students did extremely well, according to Utah History Fair Director Nicholas Demas.

Two projects placed second nationally in their categories, Demas said. Several projects were noted as “Outstanding State Entry” and multiple projects were among the top ten in their categories.

The two second-place projects included a Junior Group Documentary and a Senior Group Exhibit.

Junior Group Documentary participants Maya Holliday and Aidan Moore took second place for their documentary, “The Distance Between the Heart and the Stomach: Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ and the Movement Toward Clean Meat.” Both are students of Tacy Hymas at Mount Logan Middle School in Logan, Utah. As part of their project the pair interviewed USU history professor Colleen O’Neill.

Students Bovey Rao, Samantha Bemis and Amy Zhan also placed second with their Senior Group Exhibit “The Open-Door Policy: Turning the Economic Tide of China.” According to Demas, the students have competed for several years in the Utah History Fair and they do so independently. They all attend Hillcrest High School in Salt Lake City.

Other students recognized with awards at the national competition include Anna Bryner, Raymond Li and Bethany Anderson.

Bryner received recognition as an “Outstanding State Entry” for her eighth-place Senior Individual Website “Radio Free Europe: Defeating Communism with the Truth.” She attends Carbon High School and is a student of Tom Alleman.

Li, a student at Mt. Logan Middle School, placed fifth with his Junior Historical Paper “California Gold Rush: The Effects of Persecution and Environmental Degradation on Native Americans.” He is also a student of Hymas. He also received an “Outstanding State Entry” award for his project.

Anderson is a student of Jeff Low and Haley Robbins at Thomas Edison Charter School — North Campus in North Logan. She placed seventh for her Junior Individual Performance titled “Hungry for Treatment: The People and Ideas Behind the Discovery and Production of Insulin.”

Demas, along with parents, accompanied 65 Utah students who competed at the history day contest. The annual event is held on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park just outside of Washington, D.C. The 65 students were among the 1,329 students who competed in nine regional events in Utah. Those selected to represent Utah at the history day contest placed first or second in their respective categories at the Utah State History Fair in April. More than 350 Utah students competed at the state contest.

Nationally, more than 2,500 students competed in nine categories and two age divisions at the national contest.

In addition to competing, the Utah student delegation, along with parents, took advantage of the contest’s proximity to the nation’s capital. They toured the U.S. Capitol following meetings with members of Utah’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Rob Bishop, Rep. Jim Matheson and Rep. Chris Stewart. They were also able to watch democracy in action thanks to passes to the gallery of the House of Representatives supplied by Rep. Stewart’s office. The tickets were distributed by former USU student Nathaniel Johnson who is now with Rep. Stewart’s office. Nearly 60 parents and students watched the house in action.

In his role as Utah History Fair director, Demas spent the academic year working with schools and students preparing for the regional, state and national competitions. He made visits to schools statewide with tips to improve projects and to encourage participation. Demas attributes these visits to the students’ successes this year. He also created a number of electronic newsletters to supplement the site visits and provide information to teachers.

“I am so proud of our Utah History Fair students and their accomplishments at the national competition,” Demas said. “The quality of our students is reflected in the final results.”

Related links:

Utah History Fair

National History Day

Contact: Nicholas Demas,

Writer: Patrick Williams, (435) 797-1354,

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