Edgewood Team Advances To National History Contest

One team from Edgewood Middle School will compete at National History Day’s national competition June 14-18 at the University of Maryland after winning the state contest Saturday.
Eighth-graders Reuben Williams, Tyler McKenzie, Alex Dials, Jarrett Orr and Keegan Rice won first place at state with their exhibit on Andrew Carnegie titled “The Man of Steel.”
Matt Durrett, Indiana Historical Society’s coordinator for National History Day in Indiana, said categories in the competition are paper, website, documentary and performance. The contest is split into three divisions – youth, junior and senior, with only the junior and senior levels advancing to nationals. There also are group and individual categories.
In Indiana, Durrett said 36 entries advanced to nationals. 
“There’s a judging system. There were 26 exhibits and (Edgewood’s) placed first out of 26,” Durrett said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “There were two rounds, and they won the preliminary and final rounds.”
A team had to place in the top two to advance to finals, he said, with finals being “just a second round of judging.” Sixty percent of the score is historical quality (including research and thesis statement), 20 percent is the connection to the theme and the other 20 percent is clarity of presentation. The theme for National History Day this year is “Leadership and Legacy in History,” Durrett said.
“Part of their task was to frame Andrew Carnegie in the framework of ‘Leadership and Legacy’ with a historical perspective,” Durrett said. 
He said Edgewood will present its exhibit at nationals June 15, sometime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Durrett also commented that for the last few years Edgewood Middle School has been impressive at National History Day competition. The Warsaw school had two teams advance to nationals last year and one advance this year. “That’s hard to do,” he said.
McKenzie said his group chose Carnegie because he showed a lot of leadership and legacy.
“He gave a lot back to the poor. He grew up poor himself, and he gave back to those in need by giving them libraries,” McKenzie said.
“We focused mainly on his philanthropy,” Williams said. Orr said they looked mostly at his adult and second half of his life.
Edgewood teacher Mike Howard said the students started focusing on the project around Thanksgiving. Williams said that while they worked on the project partly in class, they worked on it a lot outside of school.
“It was a class project, but the top five groups got to go to competition,” Orr said. 
After an intra-school competition, the top teams chosen advanced to regionals at St. Mary’s University in South Bend. 
“It was kind of a little overwhelming because it was the first time we were going to competition. We didn’t know what it would be like. As we eased into it, it got easier,” Dials said.
Rice said their team tied for third at regionals with two other Edgewood teams. The top three teams at Northern District regionals advanced to state.
Students on the other two teams tying for third place were Eric Hartman, Jaxon Wagoner, Chase Byron and Trevor Rumple; and Dayle Harvey, Kristen Coates, Lachlan Lennox, Maddi Ryman and Addie Dickerhoff. Their topics included “Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Shiloh” and “Gettysburg: Seven Score and Twelve Years Ago.”
The team of Miriam Hagg, Megan Dawson and Kimmi Owens took first place at regionals with their project on women’s rights and the Seneca Falls Convention.
State contest was held at Marian University in Indianapolis Saturday. Only the top two teams in each division and category advanced to nationals, Williams said.
“It was more suspenseful the second time,” Rice said. “We were just sitting there hoping to move on to nationals because third place doesn’t move on.”
“The last time we weren’t worried if we placed or not. This time, we really wanted to get to the top two,” Williams said.
When their team was announced as the winner, McKenzie said, “I had the best reaction here. It was kind of loud.”
“My dad grabbed the camera and started snapping photos like the paparazzi,” Williams said.
Rice said they received a bronze medal for third place at regionals, but a gold medal for winning state. 
“The great part of this group was their reworking of their display. They took third at regionals, but they took the judges’ comments to heart and revamped their exhibit. They worked hard for this as they went from third at regionals to first place at state,” Howard said. 
Howard and history teacher Tim Devlin’s Edgewood students have participate in National History Day for the last three years.
“It’s a long kind of grueling process, but the moment you get to go up there and stand with (Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction) Glenda Ritz, it all pays off,” Howard said. “We had a really strong showing the last two years at district and state.”
Nationals will be held at the University of Maryland, McKenzie said. The university is 12 miles from Washington, D.C. To prepare, Orr said, “We’re going to look at what the judges said on the comment sheets and have some minor improvements.”
Howard gave a special thanks to Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert for his support behind this project; Dick and Nancy Rooker for their help; and WCS for overall support.

(Story By The Times Union)