ISLAND POND -- Saturday, April 5, was the State History Day contest -- a competition for students in middle and high school to create historical projects on any topic that connects to a yearly theme. This year's theme was "Rights and Responsibilities."

With 166 students participating from across the state of Vermont, there is always a feeling of excitement and anxiety for students. They are interviewed by a formal panel of judges and ranked within divisions. Divisions are broken up based on project type: Historical Paper, Exhibits, Websites, Documentary, and Performance, and level; junior or senior.

This was a very memorable contest for two different groups of Brighton Elementary School students who took first- and second-place in the Junior Website Division. Abigail Nadeau and Allison Gray, seventh graders, took home first prize in their division, qualifying their website for the National History Day Contest in Washington D.C. in June. On top of their first-place rank, Abigail and Allison also received the International Award, a special award given to students with an excellent project that covers a topic concerning world events. Their project is titled, "The Rights and Responsibilities Concerning Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan." They both left the contest with the understanding that their hard work paid off saying, "History Day is such a rewarding experience that all kids should participate if they have the chance."

Seventh-grade students Josh Rivers and Cooper Densmore also qualified for National History Day in D.C. by snagging second place in the website division with their project titled, "Paul Tibbets: The Atomic Pilot." The boys also recognized the importance of hard academic work: "We worked really hard on this project and, boy, did it pay off."

While these students worked extremely hard in researching, analyzing, and writing about their topics, it would be hard to imagine successful projects without the help of the local community. Not only did their parents put in extra effort to pick them up and drop them off out of school hours, but local community members lent an extra special hand. Acknowledgements go to Col. Pierre Gervais and Frank Allard. According to Josh Rivers, "Our project wouldn't have been anything close to what it was without our interview with Mr. Allard." The Island Pond Historical Society also helped sponsor student research and participation costs.

Those interested in helping with fundraising for the students' upcoming trip to Washington D.C., or simply want to wish the students luck, contact Tyler Willis at Brighton Elementary (802) 723-4373. To view the winning student websites, go to the following links:

Paul Tibbets: The Atomic Pilot: http://22985159.nhd.weebly.com/

Rights and Responsibilities Concerning Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan: http://nhdpoppycultivation.weebly.com/

Submitted by Brighton Elementary School history teacher Tyler Willis.

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