Area students excel at State History Day event

Several area students have been honored at the State History Day competition, with two advancing to the national contest.

Students came from virtually everywhere in Iowa to compete online in this year’s National History Day in Iowa state contest.

Advancing to the national contest from St. Benedict School in Decorah are the following:

Audrey Essa and Liz Bucksa with a junior group exhibit titled “FDR Fireside Chats: Message of Hope”.
The St. Benedict entries named alternates to the national competition were the following:

Reid Kuehner and Tommy Hammel with a junior group documentary titled “How Media Influenced the Vietnam War”.
Stella Pole and Olivia Huinker with a junior group performance titled “Harriet Tubman: The Key to Communicating Through the Underground Railroad.”
The students are coached by St. Benedict educator Patty Lien.

The Decorah homeschool student honored this year as an alternate in the senior division is

Janae Hassman, competing in the individual website category with a project titled “C.S. Lewis the Imaginative Intellectual: Creatively Communicating his Christianity.” Karen Hassman is Janae’s teacher.

History of History Day

For the second straight year, the contest moved to an online format due to the coronavirus pandemic. From a field of 362 participants in the state contest, 63 students took top honors and advanced to the national contest, where they will compete online in June for scholarships and prizes.

“National History Day is a challenging program that provides Iowa students opportunities to grow and develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives,” said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. “We congratulate our national finalists and wish them all the best as they represent our state at the national level.”   

National History Day is a year-long academic enrichment program that challenges students to research, develop and present papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances about historical topics related to an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.”

Students compete in a Junior Division (grades 6-8), Senior Division (grades 9-12), and a non-competitive Youth Division (grades 4-5). Students learn important literacy skills and how to conduct research using primary, secondary, community and statewide resources. Working individually or in small groups, participants learn how to conduct research, think critically and communicate through various formats. They also build self-esteem, confidence and a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process.

More than half a million middle and high school students around the world participate in the program each year.

The National History Day in Iowa program has been coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, since 1994 and is sponsored by the State Historical Society, Inc., Principal Financial Group and Bravo Greater Des Moines.

More information is available at


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