- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Hanna Shatuck, 18, a senior at Calvert High School, knew she had to add something extra special to her history fair project, “Forced Into Ruin: The Congo Free State,” which tells the tale of a large area in Central Africa that was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians, in the late 1800s.
“I emailed the Belgian and Congo embassies [in Washington, D.C.] and heard a response from the African counselor, Nico Van Dijck,” Shatuck said. “It was important to hear Belgium’s side because I wanted to present both sides of the story.”
Shatuck’s perseverance and hard work paid off when she received the Most Outstanding Senior Project award at the 2014 Calvert County History Fair on Saturday, March 22.
Gracie Knudson, 14, an eighth-grader at Plum Point Middle School, took home the award for Most Outstanding Junior Project for her performance as a child factory worker in “Children of the Industrial Revolution,” a script she wrote and performed for the judges, illustrating the rights child workers did not have during the Industrial Revolution and the responsibilities they still carried, resulting in the Child Labor Laws that exist today.
“It just felt so amazing,” Gracie said of the award she received for the project she began planning right after last year’s history fair.
A fan of theater and acting, Gracie is advancing in her category, Individual Performance — Junior Division, to the state competition May 3, for the eight-minute script she wrote and performed along with an annotated bibliography and process paper.
To prepare for the state competition, Gracie said she will be reviewing her annotated bibliography and process paper, as well as working on slowing down while she’s speaking and taking in the constructive criticism received from the judges at the county competition.
“It’s something she truly enjoys,” Lance Knudson, Gracie’s father, said of her performance and subject matter, chosen after she read Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.”
Shatuck also will be advancing to the state competition for her category, Individual Exhibit — Senior Division, with hopes to make it to the national competition June 15.
“My project introduces a lot of questions that are really relevant today,” Shatuck said. “I did a lot of research and found out that a lot of people didn’t know of the atrocities in the Congo Free State, so I thought it would be cool to show them what happened. … Should these countries be able to go back into these African countries and try to change them again, or should we let them be? I want people to start thinking about it.”
“The quality of most of the projects we’re doing are topics many people don’t know about, so I’m really happy about that,” Amie Dryer, Shatuck’s teacher and 2014 History Fair Day Teacher of the Year awardee, said of the advancing projects. “The insight they’re giving themselves as well as others is fantastic.”
“That’s the key issue about the History Fair, is the analysis,” Merry Ellen Fallica, a Plum Point Middle School teacher who has been helping Gracie with her project from the beginning, said of the program. “It’s not about just reporting what happened, but it’s about why it happened and what can be learned from it.”
Both Plum Point Middle School and Calvert High School are sending the most advancers to the state competition because of the collaborative efforts of the social studies departments, Dryer and Fallica said.
“Gracie knows she can come back year after year for help if she wants it,” Fallica said.
“It’s a lot to ask of a teacher to ask them to do the history fair, but it is a passion for me,” Dryer said of the research and presentation benefits the program offers students. “Most of my students are college and career bound, if not all of them, so having the skills to plan out a long-term project, then going from draft to constructive criticism and revising, is something everybody is going to need.”