Minnesotans for Better Education, Standards and Testing

Minnbest is a non-partisan, broad based coalition of parents, educators and school advocacy groups who believe excellent public education is a foundation of democracy in America.

6/22/2004

Public and Private school Kids in Minnesota: The Very Best in the nation at History!

Gosh, one wonders what Dick Day has to say about this. What about our former commissioner who called Minnesota History Standards, "an embarassment."

State kids clobber competition in history contest

Minnesotans take 5 top prizes; runner-up state wins 2

BY JOHN WELSH

Pioneer Press

Minnesota students put on an impressive performance this week at the National History Day competition, winning five of the event's 14 top prizes Thursday.

No other state took home that many national honors during the weeklong competition at the University of Maryland. Massachusetts was the only other state with multiple winners; it had two.

"To have that many winners shows a level of excellence that is amazing,'' said Tim Hoogland, the Minnesota History Day coordinator. "It's a remarkable achievement by these kids.''

Among this year's Minnesota winners were five women from White Bear Lake High School who won the senior group exhibit category for their work on the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Their project looked at the cultural and technological impact of the fair, including how certain products — including shredded wheat, hamburgers and diet cola — were first introduced at the fair. Their exhibit included a working model of a Ferris wheel. They estimated they had spent 1,000 hours on the project since January.

"We didn't get extra credit or class credit. It was totally on our own time. It was for our own enjoyment,'' said Rebecca Doffing, who recently graduated from White Bear Lake High School. "We all love history.''

Though History Day officials knew the names of the winners on Wednesday, the prizes weren't announced until a ceremony Thursday morning.

"We all screamed at the top of our lungs,'' Doffing said. "We were in shock.''

History Day is an annual contest that offers students in grades six through 12 the chance to build a project or performance around an American history theme. Nearly 30,000 Minnesota students took part in the state competition this year, and 52 of them competed at the national event. The state's History Day program is sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota Department of History.

Here are the state's first-place winners in the national competition:

• James Bluhm of Christ's Household of Faith School in St. Paul won in the senior individual performance category with his entry "King of Hearts: Dr. (C. Walton) Lillehei's Medical Odyssey,'' about the impact of open-heart surgery techniques developed at the University of Minnesota.

• Doffing, Bao Fang, Melinda Kernik, Ami Wazlawik and Marie Zettel of White Bear Lake High School won for senior group exhibit.

• Juan Cisneros and Kong Yang of W. Harry Davis Academy in Minneapolis won in junior group exhibit for "Exploring Mass Transit: Street Cars in the Twin Cities.''

• Katy Indvik of Carondolet Catholic School in Minneapolis won in junior individual exhibit for "The Little Rock Nine: Encountering Civil Rights in their Courageous Fight for an Equal Education.''

• Drew Piepkorn, Jason Rohlf and Peter Sarbacker of Christ's Household of Faith won in junior documentary for "Encountering Dr. Seuss: Exploring Imagination and a Lifetime of Exchange.''

Other top finishers included a second-place finish in the junior documentary category by Molly Hensley-Clancy and Brenna Kruse of Seward Montessori School in Minneapolis. Two entries were named outstanding state entries. Those winning students were Rueben Lange, Ben Hovland and Mira Lippold-Johnson of Minneapolis South High School and Berit Goetz of Capitol Hill Magnet School in St. Paul.

National History Day spokesman Mark Robinson said he didn't think any state had won so many first-place awards during one year.

"It's quite impressive. It shows that Minnesota has a very strong program," he said.