National History Day: BV students excel at national competition

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
(From left) Berryville Middle School students Karson Deatherage, Jack Dignan, Emma Hall and Alyvia Scroggins competed at the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., this June, placing in the top 20.
Submitted photo

Four Berryville Middle School Students made history this June, placing in the top 20 at the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md.

Karson Deatherage, Jack Dignan, Emma Hall and Alyvia Scroggins competed in the Junior Group Performance division. Dignan said the theme for this year’s competition was “Conflict and Compromise,” so they did a performance about the 1965 Watts Riots in Los Angeles.

Gifted and talented teacher Delene McCoy said about 3,000 students from across the country competed at the national competition.

“There were 10 rooms with about 10 to 12 different groups in each room,” she said. “These students placed second in their room, so they were in the top 20 at nationals. Only about 1 percent of the students who compete all over the world make it to Maryland, so they’re in a pretty elite group.”

The students said they were thrilled with their success at nationals.

“It’s pretty unbelievable honestly,” said Scroggins.

“It was exciting. We were really happy,” Deatherage said. “Even making it to nationals was amazing.”

Hall said she was glad their group advanced past the state competition this year.

“Last year, we got third at state and didn’t go anywhere,” she said.

“They set their goals higher, and I think they’re planning to go back again,” McCoy said.

“Yes, I want to beat everybody,” Hall said, laughing.

Dignan said the competition includes students not only from other states but also from other countries.

“We got to meet people from everywhere across the country,” he said. “We even met people from South Korea and China.”

“They call it ‘National History Day,’ but it’s really an international competition,” McCoy said.

Scroggins said the students were able to trade buttons representing their state or country.

“I got a Chinese button and a South Korean one,” Dignan said.

“I’ve got mine in my wallet,” Deatherage said.

Instead of performing in a classroom, Scroggins said the group performed in an auditorium at nationals.

“That was different because you had to be a lot louder,” she said. “You had to be a lot louder. There were more people in there, and we didn’t know all of them either.”

Hall and Dignan said the competition wasn’t as intense as they expected it to be.

“I was confused,” Hall said. “It was not what I thought a national competition would be like.”

“I expected all of the teams to be very good,” Dignan said, “but there were a few who probably couldn’t have made it out of regionals here.”

McCoy said the state-level National History Day competition is tough in Arkansas, noting that the team from Conway that placed first at the state level won second at nationals.

“If you make it out of the state in Arkansas and go to nationals it’s a big deal,” she said.

While in Maryland, the students said they got to explore the area, including Washington. Dignan, Deatherage and Scroggins said it was their first time visiting the capital city.

Deatherage said his favorite part was a tour of the national monuments in the city.

“It was at night, so we got to see everything lit up,” Hall said.

“I really enjoyed the metro and the plane,” Dignan said.

He said this trip was his first time riding an airplane.

“It was fun trying to find things in such a big area,” Scroggins said.

“Alyvia learned she could read a map well,” Hall said. “They also had a dance at the competition, which was fun. Alyvia made some friends.”

The students said they plan to compete again this year and hope to return to nationals. Dignan said this year’s theme for National History Day is “Triumph and Tragedy.”

“I think we’ve got some ideas for that,” Scroggins said.

“They’re top secret for now,” Hall said, laughing. “Nobody else can know.”

“I am phenomenally proud of these students,” McCoy said.

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