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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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Judging history connects with youth

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................March 6, 2012

Wanting to keep up with what young people are doing in their spare time these days, I once again volunteered to be a judge at the 50th annual Northern Regional History Fair held Feb. 25 at the Holmes Student Center at Northern Illinois University.

This one attracted 413 students from 24 middle and high schools from throughout northern Illinois, plus teachers, parents and grandparents.

I ran into an old Genoa-Kingston High School schoolmate, Howard Rubeck, and his wife, Doris Jean, who are grandparents of Clinton Rosette Middle School sixth-grader Bryce Comer. A first-time entrant, he had a display on the Tully

Hiawatha High School juniors Donald Giebel, at left, and Eduardo Canchola stand with their winning history fair exhibit at NIU. (Barry Schrader photo)

Monster, which is Illinois’ state fossil. His was just one of 283 projects filling the ballroom, highlighting historical vignettes throughout Illinois.

In talking with several students and teachers, I found out they spend personal time outside of school hours preparing these exhibits. It takes several weeks to do the research, find the source material and build it into a format for judging. In addition to the display boards, there were 10 video documentaries, 12 websites and four stage performances created by young people who have shown an interest in local and state historical topics.

Two juniors from Hiawatha High School – Eduardo Canchola and Donald Giebel – chose Shoeless Joe as their subject. Joe Jackson was a young, illiterate boy from South Carolina who became famous for his baseball skill with the White Sox. He was caught up in the Black Sox scandal of 1919 and banned from the sport. He had a batting average of .356 and was listed in 1999 in the top-100 players of all time by Sporting News.

Giebel told me he and Canchola have a passion for baseball and play on the Hiawatha team, which made this topic a natural for them to pursue. They captured a superior rating and will take their display to Springfield in May for statewide judging. Their history teachers, Todd Johnson and Connie Worden, can be justifiably proud because they had 34 students participating.

The sad news is only three schools from DeKalb County participated this year. In addition to Hiawatha and Clinton Rosette, St. Mary Catholic School in DeKalb was represented. Joe Rathke of Clinton Rosette had a superior-rated exhibit featuring Albert Parsons. In case you forgot why Parsons is famous, he championed the cause for an eight-hour workday. He later was blamed for the Haymarket Riot in Chicago and was hanged in 1887 with three other anarchists. He couldn’t be all bad: He was a newspaper editor and even started his career like I did as a printer’s devil.
Kudos to Anne Petty Johnson and her staff at NIU’s External Programming Office for providing students with an outlet for their creative talents. I wish I had the space to list all of the area winners, but that can be found soon on the history fair’s website, www.niu.edu/clasep/fairs/history.

Touching on another subject, the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District continues to work on restoring the 1835 Miller-Ellwood log cabin near the Russell Forest Preserve between Kingston and Genoa. Superintendent Terry Hannan says the effort needs some antique, wavy glass panes about 8-by-10 inches or larger to construct authentic windows for the pioneer cabin. If you have any old glass such as this, give him a call at 815-895-7191.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115