Hannibal Middle School students in Tim Schieferdecker's class embarked on a journey of learning and fun at the University of Missouri, with one student achieving the opportunity to participate in the national competition for National History Day at the University of Maryland.
Linnea Brown, a seventh grader, earned second place during the National History Day state competition for her project about Ruby Bridges, one of the members of the famous "Little Rock Nine" — students who changed history during the Civil Rights Movement. During her first state competition, sixth grader Elaina Dyke earned third place in the state for her documentary about Clarence Earl Gideon, a Hannibal native responsible for the appointment of legal counsel for defendants who cannot afford the representation. Schieferdecker said he was proud of the entire group, noting that 15 out of 27 students qualified for the state competition.
Dyke described her first time competing at the state level — and winning her medal — with one word: "amazing." She received the spot of alternate for nationals, if the first or second place winners cannot attend.
Brown said she earned one of the top six spots during the 2016 National History Day state competition. This year, she clinched the second place state medal, joining the first place winner to move on to the national competition. She recalled competing with a group filled with talented students — and reaching a new milestone.
"It was really exciting, because that was obviously my goal when I started," Brown said.
During nationals in the first full week of June, Brown's project will be on display in the National History Museum. She said she will join about 3,000 students in the weeklong competition, noting she has been busy preparing for the experience. Seventh grader Ashley Utter, who created a documentary about how members of the LGBT community were treated in the military, said state competition helped her hone her skills for future endeavors.
"One of my favorite parts about getting to compete at the state level was getting your feedback and getting our judges' papers back — seeing what they thought so we could improve next year for the competition, just always getting better," she said.
Fellow seventh graders Kendel Locke and Brooklyn Haye also learned how to make their project better during the state competition.
Locke and Haye partnered up on their project about the "Little Rock Nine" for the second year in a row. Haye said she and Locke worked at each other's houses over "a lot of weekends." Locke noticed a difference in the project they presented at state.
"I definitely feel like our project was a little better than last year's was," Locke said. "I'm not really disappointed we didn't make it. I'm proud that we made it to state."
Sixth grader Katie Locke participated with her sister, Ellie on a project highlighting Susan B. Anthony. She and fellow sixth grader Breahnna Parsons agreed that the competition helped them learn the importance of avoiding procrastination. She said she also received input about making her project more visually appealing, and she plans to make next year's board much larger and filled with larger fonts and images.
"I think I'm just excited to see what can happen," Parsons said.
Schieferdecker shared how happy he felt about all of the students' accomplishments, with more than half of the class competing among the best young historians in the state. He handed Brown a handful of Route 66 buttons, so she could trade for items from other students during nationals.
He asked Brown to keep him posted on her progress during the trip in June, noting he was "very, very happy" with the efforts from all of the young historians.
Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at email@example.com