LEHMAN TWP. — Students at Penn State Wilkes-Barre’s annual History Day event highlighted historical realities in the light of this year’s theme “Rights and Responsibilities.”
Students were encouraged to explore diverse areas of study, including areas of science and technology, to make projects both relevant and timely. Projects included topics such as family planning, taxation, women’s rights and the media.
Coughlin High School’s Adam Sadvary chose to present an exhibit on the black power salute during the 1968 Olympics by gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos.
Sadvary, a high school junior and an athlete, crafted an insightful perspective of the event because of his personal experience. He said both the Olympic Committee and the athletes had responsibilities to respect both Olympic regulations and the civil rights of participants.
Sadvary participated as a part of a team, which included juniors Kelly McGraw and Zack Mykulyn. The team members said the event provided opportunity to learn both about specific events and the research process.
“Research skills are essential to student projects,” said Janis Winter, the event’s coordinator. “Primary and secondary sources are a required element. Today, all participants are truly historians.”
Students entered projects in five categories: exhibits, documentaries, performances, papers and web sites. Participants in grades six through eight were entered in the junior division. Those in grades nine through 12 were entered in the senior division. A total of 183 students from 14 different schools competed.
Projects were judged on accuracy, analysis, context and interpretation.
Tony Brooks, chairman of the Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society and a judge at the event, said the day was “a great joy” to him because he participated in the very first History Day in 1980. His entry was entitled “The History of Chess.” During that first competition, Brooks won at both the local and state levels.
The focus of Brooks’ judging at the event was on those exhibits which emphasized local and regional history.
“Our campus is in itself historical, its grounds having been donated to the university by area businessman John Conyngham and wife Bertha,” said Winter, “providing a great context to today’s events.”
Madison Retallick, Deanna Puglisi and Jocelyn Struble, of Delaware Valley High School, competed in the category of documentaries.
Retallick and Struble’s entry was titled “Freedom of Religion.” Puglisi’s was titled “Miranda Rights and Responsibilities.” Both entries were high quality DVD presentations shown and judged at the event.
Judge Nancy Mebane said she thoroughly enjoyed the experience, “learning things I didn’t know.”
Mebane said she found an entry on the Fishing Creek Confederacy, highlighting the opposition to the military draft by Columbia county farmers during the American Civil War especially fascinating.
Judge James Schneider lauded young participants for a “a real sense of enthusiasm about learning and about history.”