Thursday, April 5, 2012

From furniture to orphans, Davis students know their history

Education • District history fair draws record number of participants.
By Carol Lindsay

Published: April 4, 2012 10:52PM

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Adelaide Elementary fifth graders Catherine Hall (left) and Marissa Brewster burying their heads in their books in between judging of their 21st Amendment Repeal of Prohibition project. Davis County students showed their prepared history projects related to the theme Revolution, Reaction and Reform at the annual Davis School District History Fair Thursday, March 15, at the Kendell Building, Farmington. Between 1845 and 1920, thousands of street orphans traveled by train from New York City to rural areas across the country where they were placed with farm families. This causal relocation of children by the Children’s Aid Society was the beginning of what would became the foster care system in the United States.

Ashley Hubert and Elise Willmore, both 11 and fifth graders performed a two-person play depicting events during those years as part of the Davis County School District history fair.

“Yesterday’s orphan train is sort of like today’s foster care, but today we have social workers and background checks and then they didn’t do any of that,” Willmore said.

Ashley explained that the pair chose to do their project on orphans after reading a book about them and seeing pictures of the children.

“They were all huddled up in a corner, their clothes all ripped and torn. The story just grabbed us,” she said.

But that was just one of many historical stories researched and presented by Davis students.

Davis School District has been hosting a history fair for three years. This year’s fair took place in March and was the largest yet, with more than 160 students in fourth through eighth grades participating. Students who took part in the fair had already competed at their school level and received a superior ranking.

“Early in the year, students select a broad topic that interests them, and then narrow their research to a specific event or person. Then, students must identify and argue how their chosen topic relates to the annual topic,” said Jon Hyatt, director of American History for the district. This year’s theme was “Revolution, Reaction, Reform.”

“The culmination of their research is the production of a project in one of five categories. They have the choice to produce a historical paper, website, documentary, performance or an exhibit.”

The fair was a chance for students to research subjects of personal interest. Twelve-year-old Kelsey Barber, a seventh grader at Millcreek Junior High, created a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Episcopalian church in Utah. She learned that Rowland Hall school was founded in 1888, and that the first St. Mark’s hospital was built to provide health care for miners at 500 East and 400 South in Salt Lake City.

“I am standing up for my religion and their place in Utah history,” Barber said.

Eleven-year-olds Terah Cheng and Aspen Andersen, and Keylie Criddle, 12 — sixth graders at Syracuse Elementary — researched a local icon: RC Willey.

“Syracuse is in our hometown and so is RC Willey and almost everyone in our town has been there for something even if it was just a hot dog. We thought they might want to know a little more,” Cheng said.

What Criddle found most interesting about the company’s founder is that, because he stuttered, he didn’t verbally sell his products. “He sold appliances out of the back of his red pick up truck. He would let people use them for a couple of weeks and if they liked them they could buy them,” Criddle said.

One of the fun things the group did was interview Willey’s son-in-law, Bill Childs, who took over the business. “He’s really hometown,” Andersen said.

When Kamber Hinson and Jacob Trader, fifth graders at Adelaide Elementary School, started researching the Eighth Amendment, they had no idea they would discover Hinson’s uncle was asked to be on the firing squad for a Utah execution.

“I asked him how he felt and he said he refused because he couldn’t live with not knowing if he had killed someone,” Hinson said.

Other Utah topics included Bonneville Salt Flats Racing, Hollywood in Moab, Primary Children’s Medical Center, and Topaz, a internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.

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