Young students in Northeast Denver surpassed classroom expectations and spent months preparing exhibits for National History Day, an academic contest nationwide.
Students (up to five per group) choose historical topics within the theme “Rights and Responsibilities in History” and conduct extensive research throughout the year. They compete as Juniors (middle school) or Seniors (high school). Each group presents an exhibit to a panel of judges at regional and state competitions.
A total of 19 students from Denver School of the Arts (DSA) in seventh through eleventh grades received first or second place and will go on to nationals in Baltimore June 14–19. Frannie Martin, Isabella Ocana and Lily Rasmussen from DSA received first place for the Juniors.
Their exhibit titled “Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo: A Living Legacy of Hope and Human” focused on a group of mothers in Argentina who protested from 1977–83 for the return of their children who were kidnapped and tortured during the Argentine Dirty War, Rasmussen says in one breath without pause.
Their exhibit is split into three panels: the left side provides historical context, the middle gives information about the mothers, and the right, called “so what?” explains how the mothers made a difference.
At the national competition on May 3, Rasmussen was sure they wouldn’t win—a humble perspective of her eloquent knowledge about the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. “I kept thinking ‘Oh, we’re not going to make it’ during the announcements. And then they announced first, so we were pretty surprised.”
From McAuliffe International School, Macy Gosch and Chloe McNamee received third place. Gosch says it was shocking and cool to do so well, especially this being McAuliffe’s first year participating.
She and and McNamee are both interested in women’s rights. McNamee had become frustrated feeling the boys’ soccer team received better treatment than the girl’s team (field time, travel tournaments, etc.). Her grandmother told her about Title IX—something she had never heard of.
Gosch and McNamee researched and knew they found their topic. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The two discovered, after interviewing their teachers and talking to friends, that many people don’t know about Title IX or think it only affects sports. “Learning more about it I realized every day that I go to school I am being affected by Title IX,” Gosch says. “It was shocking how unequal and unfair it was for women before 1972 when it was passed.”
Not the biggest history fan, Gosch was surprised how much she enjoyed working on the project. She is satisfied with winning third place and happy to have become good friends with McNamee.
The DSA team will compete in the national competition in Baltimore June 14–19 and the July issue of the Front Porch will cover the outcome of the competition.