Current and former students from Redmond’s Sunrise Elementary School will compete at the national level of National History Day, June 14-19 at the University of Maryland.
National History Day’s motto is “It’s not just a day, it’s an experience.” Students who participate delve deeply into the causes and effects of historic events and how they relate to what’s happening in modern-day America.
From Sunrise, Tessa King placed second in Washington state for her junior individual performance called “Rachel Carson: Conflict and Compromise Over the Wholesale Poisoning of America.” Her classmate Samantha Podlucky placed third in the state for her junior individual exhibit “The Indian Removal Act: The Cherokee Walk, a Long Trail of Tears” and will serve as an alternate in the nationals.
Sunrise alumnae Sophie Fleuret and Helen Lee are also headed to nationals. They now attend Timbercrest Junior High in Woodinville but have continued to work with Sunrise teacher Paula Cautrell after school, since Timbercrest didn’t enter the National History Day contest. Fleuret and Lee won second place at state for their junior group exhibit “Varsity Victory Volunteers: The Battle for the Right to Fight.”
Also successful at the state level were Sunrise students Ionatan Kuperwajs, fourth place winner for his junior individual documentary “The Israeli Palestinian Conflict: The Quest for Compromise in the Middle East;” and Emily Daly, finalist and recipient of the Colonial Dames Award for her junior individual exhibit, “We the People: Words that Changed History.”
King’s oral presentation, complete with costumes, explained that Rachel Carson was an environmentalist, scientist and writer who spoke out against the use of the pesticide DDT. No one believed her when she warned that it was harmful. But through her efforts, it was banned in 1972 and chemical companies were forced to investigate safer alternatives.
Podlucky’s written presentation examined the conflict between the Georgia State government and the Cherokee Indian Nation who said white settlers had taken away their land. President Andrew Jackson negotiated Indian removal treaties to send the Cherokees west to Oklahoma.
The girls said it was hard to whittle down their presentations to strict word and time limits and that very thorough documentation was required to back up what they learned. But they both love history and said the rigors of the competition would help them breeze through social studies projects in junior high.