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2016 Commonwealth of Virginia Competition Winners Announced

MOUNT VERNON, VAMount Vernon is proud to announce the Commonwealth of Virginia History Day winners! The event is a competition for sixth through 12th grade students to do historical research around topics they find fascinating related to this years’ theme: “Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in History.” The first and second place winners in each category and age division at the state level will compete at the National History Day finals held June 12-16, at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“We were excited to welcome from across the state, over 230 students, with 140 projects competing in 18 categories this year,” said Allison Wickens, Mount Vernon’s vice president for education. “Throughout the day, students demonstrated their passion and mastery over diverse historic topics through their final projects and in answering questions.  The judges had their work cut out for them having to pick the best projects to send on to nationals.”

The National History Day (NHD) program is a year-long education program that engages students in grades 6-12 in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics. Students produce dramatic performances, imaginative exhibits, multimedia documentaries and research papers based on research related to an annual theme. These projects are then evaluated at local, state, and national competitions. The tiered contests, similar to the science fair model, are judged by adult volunteers who are passionate about history. This year’s judges included staff from many state universities, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia Historical Society, The Valentine, Monticello, as well as Mount Vernon. 

For more than twenty-five years the NHD program has promoted systemic educational reform related to the teaching and learning of history in America's schools. The combination of creativity and scholarship built into the NHD program anticipated current educational reforms, making National History Day a leading model of performance-based learning.

For a full list of Virginia Contest winners and special award winners, please visit:



(Students can only compete as an individual in this category)


First Place: 
The Age of Imperial Illumination: How Encounters with Enlightenment and its Philosophers led Catherine the Great to Improve and Modernize 18th Century by Savannah Del Cid of Sherando High School 

Second Place: Gertrude Bell and the Birth of Iraq by Laura Pavlak of West Springfield High School


First Place:
 The Path to the Sugar Mill or the Path to Millions: The MLB Baseball Academies' Effect on the Dominican Republic by Thomas McKenna of McKenna Homeschool

Second Place: Gottschee by Paul Ostermann-Healey of George Washington Middle School



First Place: Space: A New Frontier by Averi Witt of Western Albemarle High School

Second Place: The 19th Amendment: First Major National Victory for Feminism by Noorjahan Sheikh of Mount Vernon High School


First Place: The Space Race: Exploration that Led to Scientific Evolution by Rithika Kormath Anand and Joanne Lee of Centreville High School

Second Place: The Bubonic Plague and its Effects on Religion and the Arts by Lakin Barnes and Cody Ratcliff of Pulaski County High School


First Place:
 The (Camera) Shot Heard Round The World: Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange by Charlie Adams of Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School

Second Place: Lacrosse: Exploration of a Culture, Encounter of a Ritual, Exchange of a Sport by Nathaniel Jolly of St. Patrick Catholic School


First Place:
 Francisco de Orellana: Exploring the Amazon River and its Indigenous People by Aidan Bradford, Robert Cowan, and Elijah Colliver of Blacksburg New School

Second Place: Neil Armstrong by Alexander Panteleos and Alexander Weszelovszky of Springfield Estates Elementary



First Place:
 The Melody Continues: Music's Modern Impact Based on Its Development and Societal Role Throughout the Medieval, Reniassance and Baroque Periods by Aislin Carpenter of Westfield High School 

Second Place: Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia: Exchanging Vows, Encountering Racism, Exploring the 14th Amendment by Maloni Wright of Liberty High School


First Place:
 Eleanor Roosevelt and the Promise of Human Rights by Maggie Olshove, Shalyn McFarling, and Rachel Knight

Second Place: Goodbye Persia, Hello Greece by Mari Sue Romero and Emma Elliott of West Springfield High School 


First Place:
 Digging the Big Ditch: Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in the Panama Canal Zone by Evan Lankford of Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School

Second Place: Amelia by Alexis Frost of Lorton Station Elementary


First Place:
 Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors by Kerah Fisher and Emma Dean of William Monroe Middle School

Second Place: Enountering Hardship, Exploring Solutions, Exchanging Futures: The Orphan Train by Shatleigh Cire and William Tabor of Bedford Middle School



First Place:
 From China to Japan: A Story of Cultural Exchange by Brooke Crouch of Western Albemarle High School 

Second Place: Penicillin: Encounter, Exchange, Exploration by Piper Moore of Liberty High School


First Place:
 Follow the Drinking Gourd: Harriet Tubman's Encounters with the Underground Railroad by Jenna Carroll, Emily Dignan, and Jordan White of Pulaski County High School

Second Place: The Horses and the Mongols: A Relationship of an Empire by Reilly Krason and Gracie Corsini of E.C. Glass High School


First Place:
 The Wrath of the Spanish Lady: An Encounter with the Most Virulent Virus Known to Modern Man by Trevor Myers of William Monroe Middle School

Second Place: Amerneian Genocide: Exploration Encounter Exchange by Damien Parr of Bedford Middle School


First Place:
 Jacques Cousteau: The Ocean World by India Wright and Macayla Lindy of Bedford Middle School

Second Place: Straight Outta San Pedro by Thomas Ensley, Miranda Hurt, and Ken Zhang of Manchester Middle School



First Place:
 A Web of Lies: The Iran Contra Affair and Reagan’s Exploration into Executive Power by Jackson du Pont of TC Williams High School

Second Place: JCR Lickler by Charlie Crotteau of Western Albemarle High School


First Place:
 Pioneers of the Luftstreitkräfte: Exploring a New Frontier of Warfare by Jacob Chang-Rascle, John Carr Haden, and Cole Weis of Western Albemarle High School

Second Place: America the Beautiful by Lyubo Trayanov and Nico Rike of Western Albemarle High School


First Place:
 Into the Unknown: The Beginning of Deep Sea Exploration by Reesey du Pont of George Washington Middle School 

Second Place: John Muir: The Exploration Behind Our National Parks by John Cole McGee of Blacksburg New School


First Place:
 A Long Road to Success: The Creation of America's Beloved Blue Ridge Parkway by Grace McGehee and Flannery McNair of Blacksburg New School 

Second Place: Preserving History through Exploration: Justice Douglas' Encounter with the Washington Post by Mia Lazar and Ava Lazar of Blacksburg New School


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