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Wichita-area students advance to national competition

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 10, 2013, at 9:48 a.m.

Competing against nearly 300 students from 51 middle and high schools across Kansas, several Wichita-area students qualified to advance to the National History Day competition in June.

The Kansas History Day State Contest was held last month in Topeka. This year’s theme was “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.” The top two finishers in each division advance to the National History Day competition June 9-13 in College Park, Md.

Students qualifying are:

• Irfan Ansari of Robinson Middle School, first place in the Junior Individual Exhibit category with “The Zimmerman Telegram: Changing America’s Role in World War I”

• John Paul Hauge of Bishop Carroll High School, first place in the Senior Historical Paper category with “Home, Sweet Home: The Rise of the Suburbs”

• Amanda Reichenberger, of Haven High School, first place in the Senior Group Documentary category with “The Dust Bowl: A Disaster that Changed Agriculture”

• Lia Savage, of Robinson Middle School, second place in the Junior Individual Exhibit category with “China’s One Child Policy”

The Lowell Milken Center Unsung Hero Award, a $100 prize that recognizes the best entry on an unsung hero, went to Saniya Ahmed of Brooks Magnet Middle School for her junior historical paper, “Doctors Without Borders.”

The Freedom Frontier National Heritage Area Award, a $50 prize, went to Luke Ketter and Anna Suellentrop of Bishop Carroll for their group website, “Bleeding Kansas: A Fight Over Slavery.” That award recognizes the entry that best exemplifies the ideals of shaping the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War or the enduring struggle for freedom within the heritage area.

Savage, 14, an eighth-grader, said she chose her topic for the state competition because she was adopted from China and wanted to learn more about the country’s longstanding one-child policy.

“Doing this project really opened my eyes to the impact, not just on women and girls but the whole culture,” Savage said.

Her exhibit included statistics showing widespread abortions, infanticide, child abandonment and sex trafficking in China. She researched orphanages and discovered nursery rhymes that reflected the culture’s attitude toward female children:

We have a dog to guard the house,

A pig will make a feast or two,

We have a cat to catch a mouse,

But what is the use of a girl like you?

“My heart aches for all those girls, knowing that could have been me,” Savage said. “The emotional tie made me so much more passionate about it. … Just knowing this event happened overseas is really shocking, and I feel that more people need to know about it.”

Molly Lavacek, Savage’s language arts teacher at Robinson, said her exhibit exemplifies the purpose of the National History Day competition and others like it.

“It’s a way to engage with the research process in a more meaningful manner,” she said. “The goal is to find a topic they’re passionate about, gather the information and come to their own conclusions about historical situations.”

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SuzanneTobias.

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