St. Paul Students Take Top Honors at 2015 National History Day Competition

For immediate release

Release dated: 
June 19, 2015
Media contacts: 

Laura Weber, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3039,
Tim Hoogland, Minnesota History Day, 651-503-9326,

St. Paul Students Take Top Honors at 2015 National History Day Competition

Nine Minnesota entries took home national honors, including one first place, at the 2015 National History Day awards ceremony, held June 18 at the University of Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

Pa Ying Lor and Siena Leone-Getten of Open World Learning Community School in St. Paul earned the gold medal in the senior group documentary category for their 10-minute documentary film, “Ella Baker: A Legacy of Grass Roots Leadership,” detailing Baker’s involvement in the civil rights movement of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Lor and Leone-Getten also received a $5,000 prize sponsored by The History Channel.

Sixty Minnesota students joined almost 3,000 students from across the nation in the week-long competition. The students, representing grades six through 12, from 28 schools around the state, presented exhibits, papers, documentaries, performances and websites that showed off months of research into topics based on the 2015 National History Day theme, "Leadership and Legacy in History."

Research about the sexual harassment case Lois Jensen v. Eveleth Taconite Co., the impact of the development of the smallpox vaccination, and the Mayo Clinic Aero Unit during World War II are examples of the topics studied by Minnesota entries selected as national medal winners.

“Minnesota History Day students continue to earn national recognition as they build advanced research and presentation skills with the support of educators from the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota,” explained History Day state coordinator Tim Hoogland. “Students throughout the state meet required social studies standards through History Day, and our very best entries get to compete on a national stage each June.”

The top three national finishers in each category earn monetary awards. National History Day also recognizes one outstanding state entry in each division, junior and senior, with a medal.

Top 10 finishers from Minnesota:

  • Pa Ying Lor and Siena Leone-Getten, World Learning Community, St. Paul, first place
    Senior Group Documentary, “A Ella Baker: A Legacy of Grass Roots Leadership”
  • Isabella Krueger, Salk Middle School, Elk River, fifth place
    Junior Research Paper, “The Legacy of Lois Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co.: Changing Definition of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”
    *This presentation also received the outstanding state entry award from Minnesota for the junior division.
  • Andy Wong, Brooklyn Center Jr. High School, fifth place
    Junior Individual Website, “Edward Jenner: Leader of Medical Progress and the Legacy of Smallpox”
  • Carly St. Martin-Norburg, Capitol Hill Magnet School, St. Paul, sixth place
    Junior Research Paper, “Declaring War on the Tobacco Industry: Leadership and Legacy of the State of Minnesota v. Philip Morris”
  • Emily Nichols, Mayo High School, Rochester, seventh place
    Sr. Individual Exhibit, “Soaring to Success: Innovations from Mayo Clinic Aero Medical Unit”
    * Nichols also represented Minnesota at a special presentation of History Day exhibits at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
  • Aria and Strom Norcross, Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake, eighth place
    Junior Group Performance, “Redefining Medicine: The Legacy of the Mayo Brothers”

Other national finishers and awards from Minnesota:

  • Monica Clarke, Caritas Academy Homeschool, Blaine, eleventh place
    Junior Individual Performance, “Sister Kenny: The Australian Bush Nurse Who Challenged the Doctors”
  • Shea Kerry and Natalie Plant, Chaska Middle School West, eleventh place
    Junior Group Website, “The Fight for Black Consciousness: Steven Biko and Donald Woods”
  • Claire Davis, Highland Park Senior High School, St. Paul, twefth place
     Senior research paper, “The Common Sense of Common Sense: The Impact of Thomas Paine’s Revolutionary Pamphlet on the Formation of the American Government”
    *This entry also received the prize for outstanding entry related to the history of the Magna Carta
  • Hannah Myers, Northland High School, Remer, outstanding senior entry for Minnesota
    Senior individual performance, “Catherine the Great: The Enlightened Despot”
  • Jillian Brenner, Murray Middle School, St. Paul, National World War II Museum "Salute to Courage Award"
    Junior Individual Exhibit, "Thrust the Warlords Back: Torpedo Squadron Eight at Midway"
    * This award includes an expense-paid trip to represent Minnesota at the opening of the "Campaigns of Courage: The Road to Tokyo,” pavilion in December 2015 at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

About National History Day in Minnesota

National History Day in Minnesota is a co-curricular historical research program that builds college readiness and communication skills for middle and high school students. More than 25,000 students participate in Minnesota each year. The program in Minnesota is a partnership of the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota, Department of History.

For more information see the National History Day in Minnesota page on the Minnesota Historical Society’s website at

Program support is also provided by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. The Legacy Amendment supports efforts to preserve Minnesota land, water and legacy, including Minnesota history and cultural heritage.

Legacy Amendment

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.