Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
Every year I look forward to the Northern Regional History
Fair for middle and high school students. It amazes me how much
work goes into the student exhibits, research papers, websites,
and onstage performances.
This year some 450 students from 28 schools around the
area came together on March 1 at the Holmes Student Center on
the NIU campus. The exhibits category alone produced 235 entries,
keeping Fair coordinator Anne Petty Johnson, her staff and a
host of judges busy for hours. They also had to rate 157 research
papers, 42 student websites, and 20 video documentaries.
Perusing the displays I found historical subjects from
all over Illinois I had never heard about before. Talking to
Hiawatha High School junior Kelly Aves I learned about the life
of a pioneer woman in education named Ella Flagg Young who was
the first female to head a large U.S. school system like Chicago.
Kelly said she wanted to feature a prominent woman in Illinois
history and came across Dr. Flagg. Her exhibit won a Superior
rating which means she will advance to statewide competition
in Springfield. The love of history must be in her genes as her
grandfather Allan Aves is a founder of the Kirkland Historical
Society and still leads it.
Next I talked with Genoa-Kingston sixth grader Hunter Swanson
who built his display around the 1835 Miller-Ellwood log cabin
discovered encased inside a farmhouse near Genoa four years ago.
It has since been reconstructed at the nearby Hoppe Sisters farmstead
now owned by the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District. His
project included a hand-built model of the cabin and also gained
him a Superior rating.
Kelly Aves from Hiawatha High School was one of the students
earning a Superior rating for her exhibit which featured a prominent
woman educator from the early 1900s. (Provided photo)
Genoa-Kingston sixth grader Hunter Swanson's exhibit
on the Miller-Ellwood log cabin restoration and relocation won
him a Superior ribbon and chance to compete in Springfield at
the Illinois History Fair. (Provided photo)
St. Mary Catholic School led the county with 14 Superior ratings,
followed by Hiawatha with 11. Only four schools in DeKalb County
participated this year.
Kudos should be given all the winners who will travel to Springfield
May 8 with their outstanding exhibits. I would hope the local
libraries and museums in their communities will display their
efforts for the public to enjoy.
St. Mary's top rated entrants were Ethan Cohen, Keegan
Donnelly, Anna Dudziak, Leilah Dudziak, Alexander Federici, Andrew
Grum, Tom Hannon, Beatrice Hartman, Mallory Larson, Madison Luce,
Cameron Pederson, Kaitlyn Schatteman, Kennedy Shelley, Michael
Stadler and Aidan Witthoff.
Superior entries from Hiawatha were Josephine Downen, Cole
Dunbar, Travis Haak, Breanna Hamrick, Alli Lovell, Cecilia Snider,
Gabbie Way, Jasmine Ascencio, Kelly Aves, Brandon Haluta and
Ashley Prell. Genoa's Superior winner was Hunter Swanson.