National History Day: BV students advance to state competition
By Kelby Newcomb
Several Berryville Middle School students will advance to the state level of the National History Day Competition Saturday, April 13, at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway.
Emma Hall, Karson Deatherage and Alyvia Scroggins placed first in Junior Group Performance. Sadie Sharp placed second in Junior Individual Performance. Ashlyn Standlee, Luke Dignan and Jaden Hood placed fourth in Documentary.
Scroggins said she, Hall and Deatherage did their group performance on the Orphan Train.
“We did have some local connections,” Scroggins said, “but we kind of tried to focus on the big historical event as a whole.”
Hall said the theme of this year’s National History Day competition was “Triumph and Tragedy,” so they found ways to relate the historical event to those guidelines.
Sharp said her individual performance focused on the life of Hattie Caraway, the first woman elected to serve a full term as a United States Senator.
Standlee and Dignan said their documentary was about the Great Depression.
Deatherage said it was exciting to win at the regional competition at Northwest Arkansas Community College this March.
“I thought it felt good because we haven’t won first at a regional competition yet,” he said.
“We always ended up getting second,” Scroggins said, “which was kind of a bummer. But we actually got first this year!”
They said their team went to the national level of the competition last year, and they are hoping to go again.
“Our judging sheets were pretty good,” Scroggins said. “They said our historical context was pretty good, and we just need to get more emotional with our performance and do a little better with the acting.”
“We need to improve more on the acting rather than the descriptive stuff,” Hall said.
Sharp said she was excited to win second place and qualify for state.
“I was excited because I hadn’t practiced it at all until the night before,” she said. “I placed last year in the poster competition. They said my acting was very good, but I couldn’t carry in my own set so we’ve had to change that and put wheels on it.”
Standlee said she, Dignan and Hood qualified for state after another team decided not to attend.
“We actually got fourth, but second place didn’t want to go so we got to take their place,” she said. “We went to the University of Arkansas library, and we got some more stuff to add for our script to make it more connected to Arkansas.”
“It felt good to qualify for state because it was our first year,” Dignan said. “We’ve got a lot of tips on what we need to do from the judges.”
The students said a lot of research and preparation went into their projects.
“It took a lot of time and patience,” Scroggins said, “when you don’t find something you’re looking for at first. We had a guy we found who got off the train in Berryville. We kept looking, and we could not find any relatives or anything.”
“We finally found out that he moved to California,” said Hall.
Sharp said she spent a lot of time developing the script for her performance.
“I had all my facts, but to put that into dialogue and switching between two characters was the hardest part,” she said.
“I think we didn’t really start adding to our script enough for us to progress until a week before,” Standlee said, “so we didn’t have very much time to actually do our documentary. It was a big crunch time.”
They said they are looking forward to competing at state next weekend.
“I’m most excited about my topic,” Sharp said. “I felt like I had a very personal connection because [Caraway] was a woman and she was going into a man’s world. Back then, women were supposed to be housewives. I’m a very strong believer in women’s rights, so that was cool.”
She said Caraway was a senator before women had the right to vote and was the first woman to vote for the Lucretia Mott Equal Rights Amendment in 1943.
“I like seeing all the different projects,” Scroggins said. “It’s nice seeing what we’re up against and seeing how we can actually improve ours.”
Dignan agreed, saying he likes seeing the different things people are doing and learning about new topics he has never heard about before.
The top two groups from each division will move on to the national competition at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., this summer.
“It’s crazy to think this is our third year going to state,” Scroggins said.
The students said they hope to attend nationals and plan to compete in National History Day again next year.