Club project teaches history buffs lessons

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Eight Southwest High School students competed in a regional competition in Joplin with their projects outlining significant historical events that highlighted issues surrounding conflict and compromise. As a result of their hard work, the students, who share a passion for history, said they took away lessons about conflict and compromise that they could apply in their own life. Contributed photo

Student: 'No matter what, there is a compromise for everything'

Southwest High School students and "history buffs" are learning to see events from the past in fresh, meaningful ways, thanks to the example of their teachers and mentors.

Leah Treadwell, Southwest High School History Day sponsor and social science teacher helped spark the students' passion for history by providing an after-school opportunity for them to explore their interests.

On March 2, four Southwest High School students took wins at a regional history competition in Joplin for their projects detailing historical events about conflict and compromise. Their victories will take them to the state-level competition for National History Day April 28 at the University of Missouri in Columbia. In photo, students Rachel Jimenez and Hope Robbins took First place in Senior Group Exhibit Board; and Trevor Sneed and Michael Foster took Second place in Senior Group Website. If the students place in the top three, they will compete at the national competition in Washington, D.C. Contributed photo

"Once a month, we would have after-school meetings and I promoted History Day as a type of gifted and talented program for our school since we are lacking that in the high school," Treadwell said. "Being the sponsor is about about helping students find relevancy in history, and helping them conduct original research on historical topics of their interest. It has been a fun journey, and I can't wait to see how far these kids will go."

She credits her own history teacher, Jason Navarro of Wheaton High School, for starting the club.

"He has been a mentor in my life since graduating Wheaton high school in 2009, and has provided Wheaton kids with success and opportunities that I aspire to give to students at Southwest," she said.

Recently, the students put their passion into outlining significant historical events involving conflict and compromise, entering their work into the regional National History Day competition at MSSU in Joplin.

Lacey Reeves competed in the senior individual exhibit board with her topic, The Election of 1800 and the Establishment of the 12th amendment. Recently, Reeves taught Coach Tony Eagleburger's middle school class about the historical event.†

Rachel Jimenez and Hope Robbins competed in the senior group exhibit board with their topic, The Iranian Hostage Crisis, conducting an interview with former hostage, Kathryn Koob.†

Nathaniel Jones competed in the senior research paper with his topic, The Crusades. According to his Treadwell, Jones knows more about the topic than his teacher, and loves to share his knowledge about the historical event.†

Trevor Sneed and Michael Foster competed in the senior group website with their topic, The Pullman Strike of 1894, which prompted the shutdown of 29 railroads, changed U.S. labor law, and was influential in the establishment of the Labor Day holiday. The website they created detailing the strike and events leading up to it can be seen at

Gracelyn Gentry and Lane Cargile competed in the senior group exhibit with their topic, Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.†

Sneed, Jimenez, Foster and Robbins qualified for the state-level competition, which will take place April 28 at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

"I find history interesting because it has real weight and for the fact that it involves real world people and events," Sneed said. "I also enjoy how much larger-than-life some of those people are. I have benefited much from my experience with History Day, mainly with providing me experience with website design, teamwork, and even interviewing. The theme provided me with an example of people banding together to combat injustice and was incredibly inspiring. It showed me that even the most insurmountable odds can be overcome."

Jimenez said she likes to learn about history because the past causes the present, and so the future.

"Hopefully, we can influence the present in a way that history doesn't repeat itself," she said. "Also, I like knowing what enables me to have a voice. I highly recommend History Day, the fact that I know more about my topic than the judges is a cool feeling. It helps with research-based strategies, and I feel like I'm more prepared for college. No matter what, there is a compromise for everything, no matter how long that may take."†

Foster said at first, he wasnít a fan of history.

"However, being in a government class and learning how our government developed made me take more of a liking to history," he said. "I have benefited†from History Day because it takes intense research to complete a project. It was my first time doing that much research and it helped show me what it was like, as Iím sure Iíll be doing something similar in college. I learned that there is a healthy balance between employers respecting their employees, and vice versa. It helped me develop a new respect for people who go on strike, or people who assemble for a singular cause."

Robbins said every day, the world constantly writes its own history.

"In 100 years, classrooms will be talking about the impact we had on them," she said. "I feel like we should take the chances we have and make a positive impact in those classrooms.

"We benefit from History Day because we constantly learn new things, nobody ever talked about the Iran Hostage Crisis when we were growing up. When Rachel and I were walking around the room looking at all of the projects, we discovered that there were so many events that we had no idea had ever happened. This contest theme teaches us to better ourselves so that something similar to those events never happen again. This theme also taught us that there are ways to solve our issues no matter how big or small, we just have to find what is the best way to solve those conflicts."†

According to Treadwell, the school does not fund the state-level trip, so the students are seeking donations to help cover gas and hotel expenses, which they expect to total about $350.

To make a donation, Treadwell can be reached at, or by calling 417-312-1127.

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