NEW PALESTINE — New Palestine High School students Julianna Leny and Krystin Kauchak have advanced to state competition for their work on significant historical topics: the fight for women’s rights and the U.S. internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II.
The students are among finalists selected at the National History Day in Indiana (NHDI) central region contest, which took place earlier this month at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis.
Indiana Historical Society organizes the history day program, which gives students an opportunity to share their work on significant events from the past.
Competition is open to private, public and home-schooled students.
Participants at this year’s regional contest came from 17 schools. Finalists advance to state, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 14, at Ivy Tech’s Indianapolis campus.
Shelby Livengood, an Advanced Placement U.S. history teacher at New Palestine High School, assigned all of her students to work on projects for National History Day in Indiana throughout the year.
Three of her students decided to take part in the competition, and two made it to the state final. New Palestine High School was the only school from Hancock County represented in the regional contest.
“I admire their dedication to doing history and actively investigating the past in meaningful ways,” Livengood said in an email to the New Palestine Press.
Leny, a senior, entered under the “Senior Paper” category and was selected as a finalist for her submission, “Women’s War Against Social Conflict.”
She wanted to take part to develop her research skills and to expand knowledge and understanding on the topic, she said.
Her paper focused on how American women have acquired their rights and freedom through time and explored ways women took chances and stood up for what they believed.
She also showed how the actions of women contributed to where they are in society today.
“I’m feeling very blessed and excited to go to state and see how this opportunity works out for me,” she said.
Kauchak, a senior, submitted an entry in the “Senior Individual Website” category and was selected as a finalist for her website “Japanese American Internment.”
She chose her topic out of a desire to learn more about her Japanese-American heritage and raise public awareness of the subject matter.
Her mother told her about Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in camps during World War II, and she couldn’t understand the injustice.
She wondered how many others didn’t know what happened to Japanese Americans during the war.
“I wanted to share what I have learned with others,” Kauchak said.
Regional finalists received a medal and became eligible to attend the state contest in April, said Rachel Hill Ponko, spokeswoman for Indiana Historical Society.
At state, the top two winners in each junior and senior category become eligible to attend the national contest for National History Day in June at the University of Maryland.
National History Day in Indiana is a culmination of a yearlong program dedicated to enhancing history education in Indiana’s schools, according to a historical society press release.
The program allows students in fourth through 12th grades to explore a subject and then use that research to create a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website.
To reach the state contest, students must qualify at one of six regional contests across Indiana.
Program sponsors include Indiana National Guard, The Richard W. and Irene Rooker Family Foundation, TCU Foundation, Vigran Family Foundation and Junior League of Indianapolis.
Volunteer judges are still needed for regional contests in Hanover, on Saturday, March 17, and Evansville on Tuesday, March 20. The organization is also looking for judges for the state competition in April.
To register as a volunteer judge, visit indianahistory.org/historyday or call 317-232-1882.