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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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History fair showcases student talent

By Barry Schrader.................................March 1, 2011

Saturday was the annual Northern Regional History Fair held at Northern Illinois University and it was a pleasure to be one of 100 judges rating the student exhibits, papers and media projects.
I am sorry to report that there were but three schools in all of DeKalb County that produced entries. Kudos to St. Mary School in DeKalb, Clinton Rosette Middle School in DeKalb and Hiawatha junior and senior high from Kirkland for taking part. Some 29 schools from northern Illinois produced some 400 students who compiled 315 projects in the three categories.
These kids had to spend extra hours outside of class – some traveling to visit historical sites or libraries and museums to gather information, and in some instances collecting photos and artifacts or building dioramas to illustrate their exhibits. That meant some teachers took the extra time to coach them, and parents helped shuttle them to the various sites. I want to single out the teachers whose students produced the top-ranked “Superior” projects, which means they are eligible to go to Springfield in May for the statewide competition. Teachers Samantha LeBouef, Marcia Feltes, Kathi Shipper, Judy Culver, Todd Johnson, Connie Worden and Amy Fontana deserve a pat on the back.
As I perused the various displays some of their builders were present to chat. Joe Rathke from Clinton Rosette was proud to share his story about the Black Hawk War of 1832. He had not only researched the history, but had a parent take him to the site of the battle at Stillman Valley so he could get a sense of what happened there. Two high school students from Hiawatha, Kelly Aves and Courtney Bolin, studied the horrible tragedy of American Airlines Flight 191 that took more than 270 lives when it crashed after takeoff from Chicago. They also won “Superiors” last year with their exhibit on the era when sheep ranching was king in Kirkland, they said.
Eleven students from St. Mary School took home top honors, which allows them to travel to Springfield for the state finals. The 1844 murder of Mormon leader Joseph Smith by a mob was the topic chosen by Joe Crase and Brandon Holuta from Hiawatha Senior High. Joe found the subject of particular interest since his father is Mormon. Brandon explained to me how the course of Illinois history was changed when the Mormons were driven out and relocated in Utah. The two freshmen also won a “Superior” ribbon for a companion project using a PowerPoint presentation.
The last young people I got to meet at their display were Rebecca Bieske and Abby Turner, two sophomores from Hiawatha. Their project, which

Hiawatha freshmen Joe Crase (left) and Brandon Haluta teamed up to win a Superior rating for their exhibit and companion Media Powerpoint project on the murder of Mormon Joseph Smith.
(Barry Schrader photos)

Clinton Rosette sixth grader Joe Rathke earned a Superior in his first appearance at the Regional History Fair last Saturday at NIU with his Blackhawk War exhibit.
(Barry Schrader photos)

Standing at their exhibit on the American Airlines Flight 191 crash are Kelly Aves and Courtney Bolin.
(Barry Schrader photos)

earned an “Excellent” rating this year, told the story of the Nazi Party march in Skokie in 1977. One of them told me her ancestor was a survivor of a German concentration camp, while her classmate had ancestors who were a part of Nazi Germany. Think of the different perspectives they each brought to this project.
The enthusiasm, as well as the talent, was impressive. I will return to my soapbox and ask the local historical societies to get more involved in encouraging young people to study local and regional history that makes the past come alive and provides future members of the local groups, which need to add new blood to perpetuate the preservation of our history in each community.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115