On Saturday, April 12, 250 middle and high school students from all across Louisiana arrived at The National WWII Museum for the National History Day State Contest. Months of research and planning went into these students’ projects which were conducted on historical topics of their own choosing. Many of the students selected their topics in the fall and then spent much of the spring conducting research online, in libraries and at historical sites and archives. With the option to create either an exhibit, a documentary, a performance, a website or a documentary, students could display their research in the way they deemed most effective.
The theme of the Contest was “Rights and Responsibilities in History,” and to address this theme, many students chose topics focused on civil rights issues, labor struggles and the history of gun control. Each student’s project was reviewed by a panel of judges, and students were granted 15 minutes to answer questions related to their research process.
The top 2 entries in each category were selected to represent Louisiana at the National History Day Contest to be held at the University of Maryland from June 15-19, 2014.
On Saturday, March 22, 2014, over 220 middle and high school students from five parishes in the New Orleans area competed in the New Orleans Regional History Day Contest. For these students, the Contest was the result of many months of researching, writing and perfecting their work on a historical topic of their choice. Judging panels evaluated student projects in five different formats—exhibit, research paper, performance, documentary and website. Students had the option to compete as individuals or in groups that could include up to four of their peers.
The 2014 Contest theme is “Rights and Responsibilities in History,” and this led to projects analyzing a wide range of topics such as child labor, Japanese American internment during WWII, the Civil Rights Movement and the military draft.
Several projects stood out for their primary source research, including an exhibit on the treatment of individuals with Hansen’s Disease (formerly known as leprosy) by Hannah Adams from New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School. A documentary on human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina by Sebina Hajarevic, Admir Hajarevic, Selma Omerbasic, Mahmut Alagic and Demir Hajdarevic from Adams Middle School in Metairie, LA proved very powerful. Kelsey Billiot from St. Bernard Middle School in St. Bernard, LA impressed the judges with her exhibit on The Trapper’s War, a 1920s St. Bernard Parish Land rights dispute that turned violent.
Students placing in the top four places in their categories advanced to the Louisiana State Contest to be held at The National WWII Museum on April 12. The top two entries in each category from the State Contest advance to the National Contest held at the University of Maryland from June 15-19, 2014.
First Place Winners:
Junior Individual Paper
Rosa Parks: The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement
Andrew Jackson Middle School
Junior Group Performance
Jasmine LaCesne, Tiffany Cheng, Micaela Bazile, Raneen Badr, Helen Kim
J.D. Meisler Middle School
Junior Group Website
Desegregating Jefferson Parish
Nohemi Lugo, Pamela Caceres
John Quincy Adams Middle School
Junior Group Exhibit
Mayte Velasquez, Keylin Vela, Rafael Rovelo
John Quincy Adams Middle School
Junior Individual Website
Schenck v. United States: Rights & Responsibilities
Andrew Jackson Middle School
Junior Group Documentary
Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina During the Bosnian War
Sebina Hajarevic, Admir Hajarevic, Selma Omerbasic, Mahmut Alagic, Demir Hajdarevic
John Quincy Adams Middle School
Junior Individual Exhibit
The Trapper’s War
St. Bernard Middle School
Junior Individual Documentary
Viewer Discretion is Advised: Rights & Responsibilities of the Movie Industry
Lusher Charter School
Senior Individual Exhibit
Exiles in Their Own Country
New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School
Senior Group Performance
The Rights of the LGBT Community
Cham Phan, Hoang Nguyen
Helen Cox High School
Senior Individual Paper
I’m in the Army Now: Women’s Rights and Responsibilities in the Military
Helen Cox High School
Senior Group Website
African American Rights: A Journey to Democracy
John Cook-Moulin and Ryan Pitre
Pearl River High School
Senior Group Documentary
Cotton Fire: The Triangle Shirtwaist Tragedy
Christina Hoang, Jack Ha, Markzavion Taylor, Diep Vo
Helen Cox High School
Senior Individual Website
Life Behind the Veil: Muslim Women in Pakistan
Alfred Bonnabel High School
Senior Group Exhibit
Game On or Game Over: Brown v. Entertainment Merchant’s Association
Tyrin Stevenson, David Girgis, Tien Huynh
Helen Cox High School
Senior Individual Performance
Bloody Sunday: Equal Rights v. the Responsibility to Maintain Order
The Museum’s History Day program encourages Louisiana students to apply their historical research skills through the creation of documentaries, research papers, performances, websites or exhibits. A major benefit to participating students is the outside reviews of their work by volunteer judges. All levels of History Day contests feature judges who donate their time to review student work, make suggestions for improvement, and determine the entries that will advance to the next round.
The National WWII Museum is looking for judges who possess good knowledge of history and great communication skills. Students will want clear suggestions for how to improve their project. The feedback that students receive is critical to their growth as researchers. Most of the students will not pursue history as their college major or career choice, but the skills that students use in creating their History Day projects will apply to any college and career path they choose.
Judges are needed for the Regional and State Contests in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport and Monroe. The New Orleans Regional Contest is on Saturday, March 22 at The National WWII Museum. Judges arrive at 8:30 am for a brief orientation and are welcome to stay through the Awards Ceremony ending by 2:30 pm. The State Contest is scheduled for Saturday, April 12 in New Orleans also at The National WWII Museum. Judges at the State Contest will determine Louisiana’s delegation to the National Contest. Find out more about Louisiana’s History Day program and other Regional Contest Dates and sign up to be a judge!
Don’t live in Louisiana? There is a National History Day program in your state. You can find the contact information for your state’s program at the National History Day website. If you are planning on being in the Washington, D.C. area in June, you can inquire about judging the National Contest.
A young Japanese American evacuee waits with the family's luggage before leaving for an assembly center, 1942. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
National History Day is a year-long historical research contest for middle and high school students. Each year, students develop a history project based upon a pre-selected contest theme. This year’s National History Day theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in History,” presents a wonderful opportunity for students to research and present on World War II topics and explore the realm of civics. When we think of the term “rights,” many of us tend to think of the rights that we have as American citizens, such as freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of worship. As citizens, we also have certain obligations or responsibilities to the country in return for such rights, like jury service, obeying laws, paying taxes for government services, and, in some cases, military service.
During World War II, American citizens contributed to the country’s war effort in a variety of ways, including serving in the armed forces, working in factories to manufacture weapons and munitions, rationing, volunteering for the Civilian Defense Corps, and buying war bonds. However, rights in wartime could also be challenged or actively denied in the name of national security. Possible NHD topics that explore this issue of the restriction of rights include the experiences of Japanese-Americans and Native Alaskans from the Aleutian Islands who were forcibly relocated and placed in internment camps by the government, who viewed them as potential spies for the Axis powers.
Students could also explore the question of rights and responsibilities by studying the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. This act required all men between 21 and 45 to register for the military draft, and legally obligated those that had not already volunteered to serve in WWII if their lottery number was called. There is also the issue of discrimination faced by Latinos, African Americans and other Americans of color during the war as they fought for a “Double Victory” against both the Axis Powers abroad and over racism at home. Examples include the Tuskegee Airmen, who were African American pilots that were trained in segregated facilities, and who went on to distinguish themselves in combat, as well as individuals like the late Senator Daniel Inouye, who, as both a Native Hawaiian and Japanese American, sought to prove his patriotism by volunteering to serve in the segregated Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Additionally, there are many examples of moral dilemmas and obligations regarding the rights and humane treatment of combatants and civilians in this total war. These include the treatment of both Allied and Axis prisoners of war (POWs) under the Geneva Convention of 1929, President Roosevelt’s decision not to bomb the Nazi death camps towards the end of the war to slow the murder of Jews and other declared enemies of the Nazi state, and the Allies’ decision to conduct international war crimes trials to punish those accused of human rights abuses during the war. Students could also look at the work of the Allies’ Monuments Men to protect, preserve, and recover the cultural heritage of war torn Europe so that these artistic treasures could be enjoyed by future generations.
Finally, don’t forget to look at events from the post-war period, too. Other great potential NHD topics are the post-war plans of Eleanor Roosevelt and others to establish the United Nations to provide for peaceful ways of resolving international disputes, and the U.S. GI Bill of 1945, which promised to provide returning veterans with help and access to education, housing, and more. World War II is a rich and exciting time period to study and explore the clash between the preservation of and the destruction of individual and collective rights, between democratic and totalitarian ideals, and the moral and civic responsibilities that men and women faced during a time of total war.
From Left to Right: Students and Louisiana History Day Participants Jayden Gibbs, Nichole Feagin, Jordan Gibbs, and Cole Conrad
Long-time donor The Selley Foundation is featured in this month’s donor spotlight! We spoke with Denis McDonald, Chairman of The Selley Foundation’s Board of Trustees, to learn more about why they have generously given in support of our mission for nearly a decade. Read on to find out how The Selleys wound up in New Orleans after growing up in Budapest, and why they enthusiastically support National History Day.
Q: How did The Selley Foundation get started? Where did the foundation’s history begin?
The seeds for the foundation were planted in the 1930s in Budapest, Hungary. Paul Selley was a young lawyer and his wife, Elizabeth, was a PhD in anthropology. In 1937, they saw the coming dangers in Europe and immigrated to New York City where they lived until after World War II.
Elizabeth’s brother, Steve Danos, had immigrated to New Orleans for the shrimp business, and in the late 1940s he convinced Paul and Elizabeth to come to New Orleans and help them with the business. By 1970, Southland Canning, the name of their company, was the largest shrimp and oyster canner in the United States. Shortly thereafter, it was sold to PET FOODS for about 7 million dollars. Paul retained his PET FOODS stock, which was worth about $3.5 million, and low and behold a few years later PET FOODS was bought out by IC Industries for double the price. Paul now had $7 million in cash. He invested it wisely and by the time he died in 1995 he left $13 million to fund The Selley Foundation.
Since his death, the foundation has given away over $5 million and its net worth is close to $20 million.
Q: How did The Selley Foundation first become involved with The National WWII Museum?
Shortly after The Selley Foundation was started in 1989, Paul served with Louis Freeman on the board for the New Orleans Museum of Art. He recognized Louis’s ability with investments, so Paul asked me if I would solicit Louis to become a Selley board member. It was the easiest selling job I ever had. Louis agreed immediately and has served ever since. One might say that it was Louis Freeman who made The Selley Foundation board aware of the mission of The National WWII Museum, since he has also served on the Museum’s board for quite some time.
Q: The Selley Foundation has sponsored a range of Museum initiatives, including Louisiana History Day, an endowment for collections and exhibits, and our Road to Victory Capital Campaign. What about The National WWII Museum’s work helps fulfill The Selley Foundation’s mission?
The Selley Foundation’s stated mission is to assist in the areas of education, arts, and culture. There is no question that Paul and Elizabeth were most interested in Europe, their homeland, and the role that D-Day played in securing liberty and freedom in many countries of Europe and eventually Hungary. The Museum fits the bill. The Selley Foundation’s sponsorship of National History Day is a double whammy. Paul and Elizabeth would be most proud to see the history projects of these young, inquisitive minds. Their results on the national stage are outstanding.
Q: On behalf of The Selley Foundation, what are the ways that you have seen the foundation’s investment lived out through the Louisiana History Day competition?
Paul and Elizabeth left some notes to future Trustees and it is clearly stated that their interest is to influence young minds to achieve excellent education and knowledge. I have witnessed several of the projects and talked with some of the young and knowledgeable researchers. National History Day clearly fits the mission of the vision that the Selleys had.
Q: Can you share with me any of the interactions that you have had with some of the participants and beneficiaries in the competition?
The young Aiden Edler from Chalmette, Louisiana. I was extremely impressed with him. I vividly remember Aiden and his exhibit on the Berlin Wall and how it changed history. I was impressed that he was only a 6th grade student at the time of competition, the lowest grade level allowed to compete. His age was overshadowed by his expertise.
Q: How does it feel to know that with The Selley Foundation’s support this program has grown from 189 participants in 2011 to over 1,200 in 2013, including 70 national qualifiers?
The regional growth in the number of participants and the large number of national qualifiers is amazing. Paul and Elizabeth would be very proud of this sponsorship. Our Board of Trustees is also pleased.
Q: How does The Selley Foundation want to be remembered?
The Selleys and their foundation would be honored to be remembered as having encouraged and assisted young students in becoming curious, educated, thoughtful, and responsible adults. When Paul wanted to compliment someone he would say that he or she was a good citizen. That was his way of giving the ultimate compliment. He would be proud to have assisted so many good citizens.
We are thankful for The Selley Foundation’s commitment to the Museum’s programs. Their generous support ensures that we can advance our mission to tell the full story of the American experience in the war that changed the world.
Seventy Louisiana students spent the week of June 10, 2013 at the University of Maryland competing in the 2013 National History Day Contest. They brought with them their research papers, documentaries, exhibits, performances, and web sites. These finalists earned their trip by qualifying at the Louisiana State History Day Contest held at The National WWII Museum in April. After spending months researching, designing and perfecting their projects, Louisiana’s student delegation arrived ready to defend their work in front of panels of judges from universities, Smithsonian Institutions, and the National Archives.
At the Awards Ceremony on Thursday, June 13, Renee Trepagnier from Catholic School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads, LA learned that her exhibit, The Americans with Disabilities Act: The Turning Point to Equality, Justice and Civil Rights placed tenth in the nation in her category and won the “Outstanding Louisiana Entry” award. Renee’s finish was the highest ever for a Louisiana student.
In between their interviews, the students traded their commemorative Louisiana History Day pins for the pins from 56 other affiliates in an attempt to collect a complete set. Seven Louisiana students managed to complete the complete set by tracking down the elusive NHD-China, West Virginia, and North Dakota Buttons.
On Wednesday, June 12, Julia Vanchiere, Victoria Brooks and Ben Maxey from Loyola College Prep in Shreveport, LA brought their exhibit, The Vaccination of America, to the National Museum of American History for the NHD Exhibit Showcase. Julia, Victoria, and Ben spent the day talking to visitors from all over the world and handing out brochures describing the history of vaccination and how it became a turning point in world history. The students were then invited by Smithsonian curators to go “behind the scenes” to view more artifacts on vaccination history.
Following the awards, students from John Quincy Adams Middle School in Metairie, LA and Andrew Jackson Middle School in Chalmette, LA received invitations to the public launch of Founders Online. This new web site from the National Archives offers users the ability to search and view the entire collection of papers of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.
The 2014 National History Day season begins now with the theme “Rights & Responsibilities in History.”
Renee Trepagnier finished 10th in the nation with her exhibit, "The Americans with Disabilities Act: The Turning Point to Equality, Justice, and Civil Rights"
Julia Vanchiere at the National Museum of American History with her exhibit, "The Vaccination of America"
Naima Mohadi shows off her pin collection
Ellicot Hall's 5th Floor served as Louisiana's home base at the University of Maryland. The students left their mark in the form of commemorative pins on the bulletin boards.
The Awards Ceremony always begins with banners, props and, in the case of Louisiana, a two-legged crawfish
An exhibit on the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans by Riley Bordelon, Brooke Glaser, and Nick Morel
As part of the Grand Opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, students from every state and the District of Columbia joined a group of World War II veterans in a special procession at the Dedication Ceremony. These 51 students earned their spots by first advancing to the 2012 National History Day Contest and then winning an essay contest asking them to describe their states’ contributions to World War II. Their essays are all available with archival photos at salutetofreedom.org.
While in New Orleans, the students were able to visit the Museum’s exhibits, tour the French Quarter and Garden District and attend the Grand Opening Gala. Every student mentioned that it was meeting their WWII veteran that was the highlight of the trip. Students and veterans exchanged contact information, and the students have been keeping their veterans up to date on college plans, scholarship applications and school projects.
Sixteen of these students advanced to the 2013 National History Day Contest to be held from June 9-13 in College Park, MD. Many of them used their interest in WWII to create projects that emphasized local contributions to the war effort.
Kilrain Popleon, Jalen Chatman, Ely'Asia Williams, and Amber Boutte stage a performance on the significance of Brown v. Board of Education
Seventy of Louisiana’s top history students will be competing in the National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland this June. These students qualified for the competition by placing first or second in one of 18 categories at the Louisiana History Day State Contest on Saturday, April 20. More than 1,200 students from all across Louisiana created projects for a series of competitions that begin at the school and regional level. Three hundred of these students competed at the State Contest in exhibit, paper, performance, documentary, and web site categories.
The theme of the Contest was “Turning Points in History.” Students were required to think critically about their chosen topics and communicate how their person, idea or event was a turning point in history. Students were very creative in choosing their topics, with projects ranging from an exhibit that detailed how the lives of people living with disabilities were fundamentally changed by the Americans with Disabilities Act to a documentary on Shakespeare’s impact on literary history.
From June 9-13, these seventy students will compete against their peers from all 50 state as well as and several US territories and international schools in Korea, East Asia, and South Asia, and several US territories.
On March 23, 2013, the New Orleans Regional History Day Contest took place at The National WWII Museum. More than 150 Students from five local parishes submitted their research projects for the competition. Students competed in one of five categories—exhibit, research paper, performance, documentary, or web site. Students could create and submit their project on their own or as part of a group. In addition to having their projects on display in the Museum, each student interviewed with a judging panel to defend their work and give the judges insight into their research process.
Students chose a range of topics including popular culture icons like Elvis Presley or Walt Disney and impacts of conflicts like World War II and the Cold War. One group of students went all the way back to the invention of the wheel with their rolling exhibit, while another group looked at more recent developments with a performance on the development and impact of hip hop dancing.
Winners in all categories were selected. Top projects in each category will return to the Museum on April 20, 2013 to compete against their peers from around the state in the Louisiana History Day State Contest. The top two projects in each category advance to the National Contest in Washington, DC from June 9-13, 2013. (more…)
Seth Husney carries the Idaho state flag while escorting Colonel Jimmie Kanaya at the Dedication Ceremony for the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
Seth Husney from Boise, Idaho was one of 51 students to take part in the Grand Opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Seth earned his trip to New Orleans by writing an essay describing how Idaho contributed to World War II. Seth was paired with Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Seth also met Tuskegee Airman Captain Roscoe Brown during the event.
During last year’s National History Day, I was given the chance to enter the Salute to Freedom essay project. This competition involved writing an essay detailing my state’s role in World War II. Being from Idaho, I wrote about Minidoka, an internment camp in southern Idaho and Mountain Home Air force Base. After learning about both, I was proud of Mountain Home’s history. I was sad about how my state and our country treated loyal Japanese American citizens in internment camps during World War II.
As part of the opening of the new US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, there was a procession with World War II veterans, and students, like me, who had been part of the essay contest. I was fortunate to be paired with Colonel Jimmie Kanaya, a veteran from Portland, Oregon. During the war, Jimmie had enlisted, and while he was serving, his parents were interned in the camp in Minidoka. His wife Lynn Kanaya was born in that same camp in Minidoka. It amazed me that while Jimmie was fighting loyally for his country, that same country was exhibiting the kind of racism he was fighting against. Would you fight for a country that put your parents in an internment camp? (more…)
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.