Taking a stand in history

Monica Mendoza, Story and photos
Kaiserslautern American

Students dive into the past, find people, ideas and events that changed history

Standing in her slightly too big, sensible shoes, Ramstein American Middle School student Megan Roach faced a panel of baby dolls. They were, for that 10 minutes, a panel of female reporters. And she, in her gray suit and royal blue hat, was Eleanor Roosevelt.

***image1***Megan’s 10-minute performance gave students a glimpse of the former first lady’s life, especially her insistence that newspapers hire female reporters to cover her press conferences in the 1940s, a time when women were still discriminated against in the workplace.

“I like how Eleanor Roosevelt took a stand for helping women,” Megan said about why she chose to research the life of Roosevelt for her project at the school’s National History Day Inc. competition Feb. 2.

***image2***National History Day Inc. is an organization that promotes history education for students in grades 6-12 through poster-board, theatric, documentary and research paper projects. An estimated 500,000 students from across United States and the Department of Defense Dependent Schools participate in competition, according to the National History Day Inc. website, www.nhd.org.

This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History: People, Ideas, Events.” Students chose a person and told why or how that person took a stand and changed history, said Janet Priddy, who teaches Creative Thinking, RAMS course for gifted students, and hosted the competition. Winners of the school contest compete in the district-level competition Wednesday.
Those winners will go to a state competition in March, which includes DODDS schools in Europe.

***image3***RAMS student SaDé Lewis went to the national competition in Maryland last year and is hoping for another shot with her poster-board of Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a leader of a Los Angeles street gang in 1969. SaDé told Williams’ story on an elaborate poster-board that featured photographs, quotes and a timeline of his life. She chose the former gang leader, who was sentenced to death for the murder of four people, because he “redeemed himself,” she said. From death row, Williams wrote youth books encouraging kids to stay away from gang life.

“He did take a stand,” SaDé said.
Priddy said the research projects were a semester-long event, doing research that requires primary sources, she said. Wednesday, students toured the poster-boards, reading facts on people from cyclist Lance Armstrong to former North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.

“I’m interested in Korean history,” said Sean Pickett, RAMS student who did his research project on Kim Il-Sung. “He did so much to preserve his country. I learned a lot about his life.”