Students earn honors at National History Day Contest

By: NewsCenter 16 Staff Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Staff Email
Five South Bend students win 3rd place for documentary in National History Day contest.

Pictured left to right: Catherine Serianni, Cameron Kanczuzewski, Madelyn Kanczuzewski, Braden Huffman, Patrice Serianni

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- Five South Bend students won 3rd place for their documentary in a National History Day contest.

After months of intensive research and success at regional and affiliate level competitions, Braden Huffman, Cameron Kanczuzewski, Madelyn Kanczuzewski, Catherine Serianni and Patrice Serianni, presented their Junior Group Documentary entitled, “Heroes of the Sawdust: The Great Circus Tragedy of 1918” at the annual Kenneth E. Behring National History Day contest.

The students are from the Around the Bend Production Company and Historical Society here in South Bend.

The contest was held at the University of Maryland College Park Campus in the Washington, D.C. area June 15-19.

Their hard work and dedication earned them 3rd place in the nation.

The children’s documentary, "Heroes of the Sawdust: The Great Circus Tragedy of 1918" chronicles the devastation of the Hammond Circus Train Wreck which occurred during the early morning hours of June 22, 1918, involving the Hagenbeck Wallace Circus of Peru, Indiana and a WWI US Troop Train.

It was one of the worst train wrecks in US history.

Eighty-six people died and another 127 were injured when a US Troop train locomotive engineer fell asleep and ran his train into the rear of the passenger cars of the circus train near Hammond, Indiana.

Each fall over half a million students worldwide begin the year-long National History Day (NHD) program, competing in a series of history contests in their local schools, regions and affiliates.

The top students in each category are selected for participation in the national contest. Participating students choose their own topics of study and research from original sources based on the theme, Rights and Responsibilities.

NHD students research historic documents and artifacts, conduct oral histories, search the Internet for information on their topics, and travel to historic sites.

They present their work in a variety of ways, by creating exhibits, documentaries, performances, websites, or historical research papers.

“Every student who enters a National History Day contest is a winner for the skills they gain during their participation,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “The work these kids do is truly remarkable, and those who reach the national level are engaging in research and critical thinking that is beyond the high school, and in some cases the collegiate, academic skill levels. I know we will continue to see great things from all of these students.”

Over 300 historians and other education professionals evaluate the students’ work at the national competition.

$150,000 worth of scholarships were awarded at the national awards ceremony to select students, and approximately 100 students took home cash prizes between $250 and $5,000 for superior work in a particular category of judging.


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