Minnesota Students and Teacher Take Top Honors at National History Day Competition

For immediate release

Release dated: 
June 16, 2016
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Tim Hoogland, Director of National History Day in Minnesota,  651-503-9326, tim.hoogland@mnhs.org

Minnesota Students and Teacher Take Top Honors at National History Day Competition

Research on topics including Jacques Cousteau, the Black Death and women in WWII helped six Minnesota entries be selected as medal winners at the 2016 National History Day competition. An award ceremony was held Thursday, June 16 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

St. Paul high school students Grace and Sovigne Gardner of Open World Learning Community earned first place for Senior Group Website with their project “The Visionary Exploration of Jacques Cousteau: Changing Perceptions of the Ocean through Undersea Encounters.” Their research explored how Cousteau’s invention of the Aqualung and other deep-sea research vehicles revolutionized oceanography and recreational scuba diving.

Chanhassen High School teacher Jenny Zanner Rowe also received the Senior Division Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award, worth $10,000. One junior division (middle school) and one senior division (high school) teacher receive this award annually in recognition of their longstanding dedication to the National History Day program and commitment to student achievement.

Sixty-six Minnesota students joined almost 2,800 other students from across the nation in the week-long competition. The students, representing grades six through 12, came from schools across the Minnesota and presented exhibits, papers, documentaries, performances and websites that showcased months of research into topics based on the 2016 National History Day theme: "Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History." 

The top three national finishers in each category earn monetary awards. First place receives $1,000, second place receives $500 and third place receives $250. National History Day also recognizes one outstanding state entry in each division, junior and senior, with a medal.

Student winners from Minnesota:

  • Grace Gardner and Sovigne Gardner, Open World Learning Community, St. Paul
    First Place, Senior Group Website: “The Visionary Exploration of Jacques Cousteau: Changing Perceptions of the Ocean through Undersea Encounters”
  • Camryn Franke, Washington Technology Magnet School, St. Paul
    Second Place, Senior Paper: “The Black Death, an Unforeseen Exchange: Europe's Encounter with Pandemic Sparked an Age of Exploration”
  • Cosette Isakson, Preston Alleman, Samuel Otten, Amari Piepkorn, Tessa Rohlf, Christ's Household of Faith School, St. Paul
    Second Place, Junior Group Performance: “No More Hiroshima: An International Exchange for Peace”
  • Roger Altman, Ryder Sitcawich, Woodbury Middle School, Woodbury
    Third Place, Junior Group Exhibit: “…I will kill it:” Jackson Encounters the Second Bank of the United States "The Bank War"    
  • Ari Geerdes, Michaela Greenwood, Belinda Harms, Austyn Otten, Alyssa Schuett, Christ's Household of Faith School, St. Paul
    Third Place, Senior Group Performance: “We Were There Too: The Exchanging Roles of Women in WWII”
  • Strom Norcross, Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake
    Third Place, Junior Individual Performance: “Strength in Numbers: Exploring the Role of Industrial Unions Through the 1894 Encounter Between the American Railway Union and the Great Northern Railway”

In addition to the medal-winning entries, Minnesota had seven other national finalist projects:

  • Theo Sage-Martinson, Open World Learning Community, St. Paul
    Fourth Place, Junior Individual Documentary: “Sir Francis Drake: Opening New Routes of Exploration and Exchange.” Also received the Junior Division Outstanding Entry Award for Minnesota.
  • Kate Mahonen, Forest Lake High School, Forest Lake
    Fifth Place, Senior Individual Exhibit: “Rolling Stone Magazine: Exploring the Boundaries of Music Journalism” Also received the Senior Division Outstanding Entry Award for Minnesota.
  • ​Sam Skinner, Murray Middle School, St. Paul
    Fifth Place, Junior Individual Website: “Encountering the Truth: State of Minnesota v. Phillip Morris Inc.”
  • Anna Kronbeck, Hawley Elementary School, Hawley
    Sixth Place, Junior Individual Website: “Exploring New Horizons: WASPs Take Flight”
  • Gabriel Chang-Deutsch, Clara Barton Open School, Minneapolis
    Seventh Place, Junior Paper: “Native People in a Pacific World: The Native Alaskan Encounter and Exchange with Native People of the Pacific Coast”
  • Siena Leone-Getten, Open World Learning Community, St. Paul
    Seventh Place, Junior Paper: “Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed: Exploring Auto Safety Hazards”
  • Noah Rice, Friends School of Minnesota, St. Paul
    Eighth Place, Junior Paper:“Co Chi Thi Nen: Vietnamese Immigrants Explore a New Home in Minnesota After the Fall of Saigon”

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. 27,000 students from over 250 schools 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 education.mnhs.org/historyday.

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.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS 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, MNHS 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.