I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
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The Articles started December 2007.
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History fair showcases student talent
By Barry Schrader.................................March
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
Standing at their exhibit on the American Airlines Flight
191 crash are Kelly Aves and Courtney Bolin.
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.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115