ANDERSON – For the third year in a row, students from Anderson Christian School have claimed rightful spots in the finals of the National History Day competition held in the Washington, D.C., area. Jonah Vallance, eighth-grader, is traveling to present his prepared performance that won first at both the regional and state competitions.
His spark of inspiration came while visiting the spy museum on last year’s trip – when he competed in the same contest with a performance detailing the history of Hershey, Pa.
“At the spy museum in Washington, D.C., I saw how intelligence affected World War II,” said Jonah. “When people think about intelligence, they think about the stuff in spy movies. But there were all kinds of different ways that intelligence was gathered. It was very interesting.”
Through researching online, reading books and conducting personal interviews, Jonah gathered enough information to present a 10-minute play for the Junior Individual Performance category of the competition. He poses as John Henry, a college professor, speaking with a class about the topic.
Two of his fellow students also competed in the state competition after winning first in regionals. Emily Coulter, seventh-grader, won the Junior Individual Exhibit category and Rebekah Payne, ninth grader, won the Senior Individual Exhibit category.
“I learned there was a lot more to women’s suffrage than people realize,” said Emily, who chose the topic from simple curiosity. “It took a lot of years for women to get to vote. And I thought it was amazing that in some territories, they had the vote and then it got taken away.”
Since this is her first year competing, Emily was excited by her win at the regional competition.
“I was surprised and thanked God for it,” she said. “I didn’t place at state, but it was a great experience.”
The National History Day contest is an annual event in which over half a million students compete. They are allowed to pick any topic that relates to the overall theme and present their findings in one of the following categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website. Junior divisions are for middle school and junior high students and senior divisions are for high school students.
This year’s theme was Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events. Annually the national leg of the competition is held at the University of Maryland in College Park. Participants often visit the monuments and museums in Washington, D.C., and learn more from the trip than they do in the preparation.
“(The biggest benefit) is being able to have the experience of presenting my project and interacting with the other people,” said Jonah, mentioning 4000 people from all 50 states represented their schools last year. “The world is full of various people. I am looking forward to visiting Arlington and the Smithsonian Castle.”