Layton students headed to National History Fair

Friday , May 08, 2015 - 9:55 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

LAYTON — Several students from Layton Christian Academy are recent state history fair champions and will represent the state of Utah at the national history competition held this June in Washington D.C.

The school has had teams win at the state level, but only two teams from each state move on to the national level. This is the first time Layton Christian Academy has had a team qualify for the national competition.

“One of the things that is valuable about these projects is the in-depth nature. One of the challenges of teaching history is the two decades of history we have to cover, where we are reciting facts, dates, and information, which is easy to find today. We then use these projects to teach kids how to take that information and apply it to be useful,” History Department Head Aaron Schrader said.

Students begin working on similar projects in the second grade, vacillating between science and history fair projects from year to year. This year’s focus was on history, with teams implementing the theme, Leadership and Legacy in History.

The team chose to focus on the cold war, putting together a 10-minute documentary, “The Leadership and Legacy of the Cold War,” focusing on how many of the country’s leaders left a legacy for the current generation. “The world is returning to the brink of war, and if that time comes, may the events of the cold war not be forgotten and be used as an example for us now,” the video concluded after pointing out the critical decisions made by John F. Kennedy to quarantine Cuba during the missile crisis rather than declare nuclear war, and then Harry Truman, who signed the National Security Act, unifying all military branches, creating the Central Intelligence Agency, a legacy still used by the country’s leadership today.

Four students were involved in the project - sophomores Mark Malcom, Jonathan Chua, Leon Sato, and Michael Grove.

Leon grew up in Japan and didn’t get a chance to learn much about the cold war or the Cuban missile crisis. “I thought it was actually a huge war, but because of the leadership of the U.S. and the USSR, they prevented that from happening,” he said.

Jonathan notes that since history repeats itself, he gained a valuable amount of knowledge on how the country can better handle events such as the cold war. “It gave me a good experience having to talk about something I hadn’t researched before and the opportunity to realize these leaders all had individual things they did and relied on each other.”

The project coincided with National History Day in hopes of sparking a passion for history as they work on the projects. “This broadens the scope for our students as they do research on a project because not everyone enjoys doing science,” said the school’s Director of Admissions, Natalie Six.

Schrader also sees it as a learning vehicle for students so they can learn how to take advice and critique from judges. Each year over 600,000 students across the globe compete in the history contest, researching topics that are historically significant.

The team of students are preparing for the national finals and trying to fundraise enough so they can travel to Washington D.C.

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