Wheaton students compete in state History Day contest

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wheaton Junior High School eighth grade students Sheldon Harper and Tyler Schoelzel competed at Missouri History Day in Columbia on April 12. Although they did not advance to the national level, they represented their school well at the state competition.

"Sheldon and Tyler had to rework their entire script after losing a group member less than a week before the regional contest," said Jason Navarro, high school history teacher. "They used the month between (the regional and state) contests wisely, once again reworking the script and making dramatic improvements to their overall performance.

"The performance explained their thesis that Nikola Tesla, not Thomas Edison, was the driving force behind bringing electricity to the homes of the American people," said Navarro. "Schoelzel delivered a strong performance as Edison, and Harper did an admirable job of playing both Tesla and George Westinghouse by making a smooth costume change halfway through the performance."

Several other Wheaton students also participated in the regional History Day contest that was held at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin on March 7.

An exhibit created by Donovan Bartkoski, Dentin Schwartz and Yeng Yang that featured information on the Cuban missile crisis defeated several other entries to reach round six of the regional competition. This was the second consecutive year that Schwartz has excelled at the regional level.

Chee Yang, Jennifer Day, Suzy Pointer and Jessica Haynes were invited to display their exhibit, which featured information on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, at the Joplin Museum Complex. An exhibit created by Sean Goostree, Jesse Mitchell and Anthony Brattin about Jackie Robinson is also on display at the museum.

"Most of the schools in the contest use History Day as their gifted program curriculum," said Navarro. "As a result, History Day students in schools such as Carthage have entire class periods during regular school hours to polish their projects and ensure quality presentations.

"In contrast, Wheaton student participate in History Day on a completely voluntary and extracurricular basis," said Navarro. "They have to sacrifice time before and after school, as well as at home, to ensure that their performances and exhibits stack up to the competition."

Wheaton Junior and Senior High School students are planning to compete in next year's regional History Day contest. The theme for the 2009 event will be "The Individual in History."

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