Eighth-grader Hanna Ritchie has learned that history doesn’t have to remain in the past. Her exhibit “Greenpeace the Journey to Save Whales,” earned her first place for the individual exhibit category and best in show at the Bigfork National History Day on Tuesday.
“When I thought of history, I thought of old wars,” Ritchie said. “I wanted to do an issue that was past and present because it’s still going on today.”
Under the National History Day theme, “Taking a Stand in History,” Ritchie was interested in how Greenpeace took up the plight of whales in the mid 1970s.
“I thought it was really interesting how they really blockaded 425-foot whaling vessels in tiny rubber dinghy’s to put their life on the line,” Ritchie said. “Greenpeace is the first breed of environmental activists. If they hadn’t sparked that revolution [against whaling] then it might be too late if someone finally did today.”
Saylor Martinz and Shaney Fox reflected abolitionist Harriet Tubman and her stand against slavery in their exhibit.
“She made 19 trips to the South and saved over 300 people,” Martinz said. “I didn’t know how much she had to risk when she was doing this.”
Participation in the history competition is a requirement for history teacher Cynthia Wilondek’s eighth-graders. Students could create exhibits, documentaries, websites, performances or write research papers.
“They learn high standards of what research is supposed to be,” Wilondek said, noting that students visit the Museum at Central School to study how research is conducted.
Students found inspiration for their projects in different ways.
Eighth-graders Dainen Webster and Gabe Grende decided to do a documentary on “The Untouchables” inspired by the film of the same title. They placed second in the group documentary category.
Webster and Grende said it was fun to research the history of the law-enforcement agents who helped bring down Al Capone during the Prohibition era.
“They stood up against the big bully,” Webster said about why “The Untouchables” fit the “Take a Stand” theme.
“I think what’s wonderful about history is it encompasses everything,” Wilondek said. “It really is the jack-of-all-trades of subjects.”
National History Day turned Bigfork High School sophomore and competition judge Ahna Fox into a history buff.
In 2015, the first year of Bigfork National History Day, she was part of a group whose exhibit went all the way to nationals in Maryland and Washington D.C.
A competitive streak combined with enthusiasm for history at nationals is what led Fox to wade deeper into the subject.
“It made me realize that history really changed our world and shaped it. I think the key to changing the world today too is looking at history from the past,” said Fox.
The top two students in each category advance to state, which will be held April 8 in Bozeman.
Results and project topics are as follows:
Group exhibit: 1. Shaney Fox and Saylor Martinz, Harriet Tubman; 2. Walker Fisher, Quin Nissen and Addison Reichner, Jeannette Rankin; 3. Landry May and Kadance Mishke, Chief Plenty Coups.
Individual exhibit: 1. Hanna Ritchie, Green Peace’s Campaign for Whales; 2. Kenan Rehbein, Edward Jenner and the Smallpox Vaccine; 3. Katelyn Griggs, Nelson Mandela.
Group website: 1. Braeden Anderson and Josh Sorenson, Battle of Thermopylae; 2. Lauren Adolph and Audrey Buenz, Rosa Parks; 3. Ben Richmond and Kate Reese, Muhmmad Ali.
Individual website: 1. Ryan Cantrell, Chief Joseph’s Resistance to U.S. Army; 2. Tori Balappa, Space Race; 3. Sariah Buckley, Nelson Mandela.
Group Documentary: 1. Nick Paulson and Emmett Aschim, First Wave of Women’s Civil Rights; 2. Dainen Webster and Gabe Grende, The Untouchables; 3. Keyera Mauro and Courtney Carey, Hazel Hunkins.
Individual Documentary: 1. Lucy Takeuchi, Leo Ryan vs. Jim Jones.
Paper: 1. Brandon Wenzel, Creation of Independent Air Force; 2. Juniper Johnson, Nelson Mandela; 3. Noah Kinslow, Martin Luther.
Group performance: 1. Jack Johnson, Anna Funk and Lisa Saban, Motown Movement.
Individual performance: 1. Eilis Hatch, Irish Rebellion.
Best in show: 1. Hanna Ritchie, Green Peace’s Campaign for Whales; 2. Shaney Fox and Saylor Martinz, Harriet Tubman; 3. Ocean Burnham, Allie Reichner, and Jessica Frey, Prohibition.
Hilary Matheson is a reporter for The Daily Inter Lake. She may be reached at 758-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.