TAMS students perform well at the National History Day competition

For the second time in as many years, the Tyrone Area School District had a first-place winner at the National History Day regional competition at Juniata College.
Freshmen Kairann Isenberg, Kristen Gurekovich, Casey Miller and Chasitee Novak took home a blue ribbon on Wednesday, April 2, for their entry in the senior division group project category, “The Responsibility of Propoganda is to be Pro-Government.”
The group’s victory was the highlight of a day that saw two other Tyrone teams advance to the National History Day state competition held annually at Penn State University. Also qualifying were eighth graders Sara Boyer, Nikki Thomas, Wade Branstetter, Alexis Pazmino and Robert Gherity, who placed second in the junior division group project category with their display titled “Reparations, The Right to Compensation for Slavery” and seventh graders Alexis Murray, Clayton Hoover, Mike Moore and Chelsea Brockett, who placed third in the same category and division with their display “The New York City Draft Riots: Were the Rights of the Poor Being Infringed?”
The top three finishers in each category advance to the state-level competition, slated this year for May 14-15. Gifted Support students at Tyrone Area Middle and High School began competing in the competition, which has been held at Juniata for the last 18 years, four years ago. Since then, 10 groups have earned ribbons for placing in the top three of their respective categories, eight have advanced to the state-level competition, and more than 60 students in all have participated.
This years contest saw 13 schools from Blair, Bedford, Centre, Huntingdon, Juniata, Snyder and Mifflin Counties converge on the small campus to compete under the theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in History.”
Students competed in one of seven categories: Historical paper (1,500-2,500 words, individuals only); individual project (displays containing maps, charts, models and more); group projects; individual performance (such as short plays or interpretive readings); group performance; documentaries; and group documentaries.
The first-place winning presentation looked at the history of wartime propaganda from all major US conflicts as well as that of the Cold War.
In the process, Miller and Gurekovich became Tyrone’s first three-time state qualifiers and Isenberg became the first TAHS student to be a part of two first-place entries. Isenberg was a member of a blue-ribbon winning group performance a year ago, while Gurekovich and Miller each qualified in 2001 and 2002.
“The performance of these students speaks volume for their academic work ethic and character,” said Tyrone Area Middle and High School gifted support teacher Kerry Naylor. “The freshman group may have surprised even themselves. The senior division includes students in grades 9-12 so for them to come in in their first year of eligibility in that category and win was impressive.”
The groups’ performances and displays were helped along this year by Tracy Renner, a newly-hired Tyrone High School history teacher who since the middle of January served as the gifted support teacher after several sudden vacancies in the English Department forced Naylor to finish the year teaching 10th grade English.
“History Day teaches students not only how to research and develop a thesis for a specific topic, but also how to work together as a team to accomplish one goal,” said Renner. Even if they didn’t place according to the judges who were there, they were all winners because they did their best and accomplished what they set out to do.”
“Tracy did a tremendous job and kept the program on track,” said Naylor. “She knew coming in that the History Day competition would be her first focus and she knew we had done well in the past, so there was a little pressure. But she definitely added something new and fresh to the students work and her time and effort in overseeing the projects were obvious.”