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We're History: Local students compete at annual fair

Leah Kennick, a sixth-grader at Creekview Elementary School, above left, and Mont Harmon's Samantha Tatton, above, stand before their exhibits at the annual Utah History Fair regionals held on Friday, March 12 at the CEU student building. Tatton won first place in the individual category for her work on the history of cameras.

"Borrrring!" That's the usual response one gets when the subject of history is brought up to the average teenager. Let's face it, the topic itself conjures up images of dry, dusty old professors prattling on for hours on end about stuff that might have happened hundreds - if not thousands - of years ago.

I mean, who cares about the Treaty of Ghent, the Spanish Armada, the Mexican-American War, the Berlin Airlift, Sputnik and the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Who cares, right?

Well, some people do care and it, and many of those were gathered in the student center at CEU on Friday, March 12 for the annual Utah State History Fair's regional finals.

Those qualifying will go on to state competition scheduled to take place at the University of Utah at a yet to be determined date.

"I think with the advent of the History Channel, A&E and other cable networks, history has really come alive for a lot of these kids," said Jarad Hardy, a teacher at Mont Harmon Junior High School and one of the judges of the event.

"To these kids it means even more," he added. "These networks give students more of a visual context of history, one which our generation did not have."

In this competition, pupils from grades 6 through 12 are expected to research and create their own exhibits. The efforts on display last week included the history of telephones, animal traps, Utah mining, photography, athletic shoes, mummification, brain surgery, television, Roman military engineering, frozen food, the Pony Express, X-rays, automobiles, submarines, computers, Greek mythology, medicine, the Internet and many more.

There were even exhibits on Ft. Fincastle in the Bahamas, as well as a history of toilets and an explanation of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx.

The pupils are judged on several categories, including media, presentation, documentary, Web and performance work.

"There are as many projects as there are students participating," said Nick Demas, the director of the fair, who supervises about 10 such events throughout Utah annually. "You would be surprised at what these kids can come up with. It never ceases to amaze me."

While reseaching her material on autos, Castleview Elementary sixth-grader Leah Kinnick got a taste of what higher educational chores are to come.

"I was a little scared, but I learned a lot and had fun," she said. "I'd like to do this next year, too."

Another judge and Mont Harmon instructor, Joe Cha (pronounced CAW), explains the process to his charges, but remains appropriately hands-off.

"I show them examples of past work and talk about the theme and give them time for research, but from there it's their projects," he said. "This is a great opportunity to put classroom work into practical application. A lot of our students come back year after year to participate."

Those moving on to the state finals include Dalla Armano (MHJHS, first place, 6-8, historical paper, "Guerilla Warfare"), Kaden Archibald (MHJHS, first place, 9-12, hisotrical paper, "Light Bulb"), Chantz Richards (MHJHS, first place, 9-12, individual performance, "Polio Vaccine"), Jamie Jewkes (Helper Junior High School, first place, 9-12, individual documentary, "The Pony Express"), JoeCee Hiel (MHJHS, second place, individual documentary, 9-12, "Ballet"), Ashley Martinez, Madison Alleman and Alex Richens (MHJHS, first place, group documentary, 9-12, "History of Social Networking Sites"), Thory Van Dyke, Jake Carpenter and Isaac Morley (MHJHS, second place, group documentary, 9-12, "Clocks: Sundials to Satellites"), Samantha Tatton (MHJHS, first place, individual exhibit, 9-12, "A Flash From the Past"), Daniel Atwood, (HJHS, second place, individual exhibit, 9-12, "Lasers"), Joseph Sheikh (MHJHS, first place, individual exhibit, 6-8, "Communist Manifesto"), Tyler Hammack (MHJHS, second place, individual exhibit, 6-8, untitled), Braidy Mills and Michaela Fossat (HJHS, first place, group exhibit, 9-12, "Artificial Heart"), Mikelle Marchant and Roni Law (HJHS, second place, group exhibit, 9-12, "Utah Mining"), Deidra Wilstead and Andrea Hyer (HJHS, second place, group exhibit, 9-12, "Paper Money"), Dillen Ward and Robbi Etzel (MHJHS, first place, group exhibit, 6-8, "Animal Trapping"), Chandon Montgomery and Dalton Latimer (Creekview Elementary School, second place, group exhibit, 6-8, "Battery Power") and Lydia Morley and Annika Hansen (MHJHS, second place, group exhibit, 6-8, "Nuclear Weapons").

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