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Crete Students Win at National History Day District Contest

Two students who participated in History Day competition


    Two Crete High School students came away with first place awards, and also won special prizes in the recent National History Day: Nebraska Lincoln District contest. Senior Emily Binder, prepared a website, and junior Zoe Kraus created a documentary.   The annual event, held at Southeast Community College (SCC) in Lincoln, followed the 2019 national theme: “Triumph and Tragedy.”     Approximately 100 middle and high school students from southeast Nebraska took part in the competition. The Crete winners will now move on to the state contest at Nebraska Wesleyan University on April 6.

    Binder’s website, “One Nebraska Railroad: The Carrier of Triumph and Tragedy,” focuses on the railroad line that runs through Crete.  The Burlington Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska was a positive influence on town building, transportation, and commerce, but was also the cause of disappointing and tragic events.  Settlements missed by that the railroad, became ghost towns, and accidents involving the railroad such as car/train crashes and the horrific Crete “Ammonia Disaster” of 1969 brought tragedy to the area.   Binder presented her website to the judges, and answered questions during her interview time. In addition to earning first place in the senior individual website category, she won the “Best Project in Local or Nebraska History” award sponsored by the Crete Heritage Society.

    Zoe Kraus won first place in the senior individual documentary category for her ten minute documentary entitled, “A Triumph to End the Tragic Onset of Malaria in the United States:  The Creation of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention,”   Her self-narrated documentary explains the tragic consequences of the malaria outbreak in the first half of the 20th century, and the steps taken to halt and prevent this disease from spreading.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emerged from this epidemic.  She presented the documentary and then was interviewed by the judges.  Kraus’s project won two special awards: “Best First Impression Award” sponsored by the SCC Career Placement Services Office, and the “Best Project with Global Focus” award sponsored by the SCC Global Education Committee.

    The students consulted books, maps, historical newspapers and photos, websites, and conducted interviews to prepare their projects. They were also required to write process papers explaining their topic choices and their research processes. Their projects include comprehensive annotated bibliographies.  Contest entries are judged on content, appearance and presentation, and also how well the individual topics adhere to the annual theme.  

2 students with medals and prizes for History DayLaunch the second image gallery player

    The contest winners are the daughters of Darren and Ellie Binder, and Steve and Diane Kraus.   Emily Binder has participated in National History Day for seven years, and Zoe Kraus for four years.   Crete students are coached by Doane University/Crete historian, Janet Jeffries, in cooperation with Crete Public Schools enrichment teacher Karen Drevo. The students conducted most of their research at the Benne Memorial Museum in Crete.

    The Lincoln contest is one of seven district competitions in the state.   Participating students were from several counties in this region, and competed in the areas of papers, exhibits, performance, documentaries, and websites.  Contestants are divided into junior and senior categories according to age.  Topics are each student’s choice, but they must to adhere to the annual theme. The top winners from each of the district contests compete in the statewide contest at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Winners at state competitions advance to the national contest held in June at the University of Maryland at College Park.  Contest judges include college professors, public school teachers, librarians, architectural historians, historic preservation and museum professionals, and technology professionals. Binder and Kraus had the special honor of taking their 2018 winning projects to the national competition last year.

    National History Day was founded in 1974 as a small local contest by the History Department at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.    The program’s goal was to reinvigorate the teaching and learning of history in grades 6-12. The program expanded rapidly throughout Ohio and the Midwest, and became a national event in 1980.  More than 400,000 student researchers participate annually in this program guided by thousands of teachers and volunteers, and many local and state history institutions.