Students to go on to compete in a virtual tournament.
Starting in December 2019 and stretching through to January 2020, all of the friendly freshmen of the GPS could be found working on National History Day projects. At the end of January, an internal competition was held in Caldwell Commons, with faculty and staff serving as judges to give the girls feedback should they choose to take their projects to the next level. That level came on Thursday, March 5, when nearly a third of the members of the freshman class took their projects to Lee University for the Southeast Regional National History Day competition.
The freshmen were joined by six Middle School girls from the after-school National History Day Club, an enrichment opportunity for girls in grades six through eight that is led by Dr. Ralph Covino. Mr. Reed Dillard, who teaches Upper School Modern World History, works on NHD projects with his students in the classroom as does Covino in his Upper School Honors Modern World History classes. Thirteen of the girls’ projects were awarded prizes; of the 43 GPS girls who entered the contest that morning, 34 came home with either a first, second, or third place medal, the school’s most impressive performance to date.
“Winning lots and lots of medals is always a treat, of course, and I would be lying if I said that I don’t look forward to announcing them in Chapel,” said Covino, “but what I truly appreciate is the feedback that comes out of the NHD process. The girls’ confidence and the pride they show in their work are both frequently noted by the judges in their reports. This lets me know that what we are doing is right: giving the girls the time, space, and opportunities to work on projects that clearly communicate to others what we see at school every day—that our girls know how to work hard and how to harness the power of creativity and collaboration to make their voices heard and make an impact.”
GPS History and Social Sciences Department Chair, Dr. Gregg Lightfoot, reacted to the news of the GPS wins. “This is a strong showing on the part of our students and a wonderful articulation of the power of hard work and revision over an extended period of time,” he said.
The theme of this year’s National History Day competition is “Breaking Barriers in History.” Girls were free to choose any historical topic relevant to the theme and could work on projects individually or in groups as they preferred. They shared their results in project form either as exhibits, papers, performances, websites, or documentaries, which earned them six first-place finishes, four second places, and three third places.
Women’s history topics were particularly popular with the girls this year, with entries including familiar American topics such as the Salem Witch Trials and women’s suffrage but also a project on the role of women in Meiji Japan. There was also a very strong focus on issues of social justice and inequality in history, explored for example from a political angle through an examination of the founding of the Soviet Union or from a social one through a project examining modern day women making history by working to bring an end to arranged and child marriages across the globe.
Local topics—such as the racial integration of both GPS and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga or the creation of the Chickamauga National Military Park, and technology-focused ones, as with the projects on the coming of the railroads or the advent of the telegraph, nuclear weapons, and even cloning—speak clearly to the broad range of students’ interest as well as to their boundless curiosity. Of particular note was the catchy title of our seventh-graders’ exhibit on the women of NASA and rocketry: “Math, Science, Self-Reliance: Blasting Off to a New Era.”
Girls finishing in first or second place will have the opportunity to compete against the other regional victors from across the state. Unlike in previous years when the competition was held in Nashville, because of this year’s special circumstances, Tennessee History Day will be a virtual competition, with entries being judged remotely. Following a period of project revision, our girls will resubmit their entries for consideration through a variety of online formats as they move forward to represent both GPS and southeast Tennessee in the competition. Go Bruisers!
At the National History Day Southeast Tennessee Regional Competition, the following GPS girls won awards:
First place, Junior Group Performance: Ainsley Bronze, Lucie DeGaetano, Emerson Couch, and Bella Durst (8th Grade) for their play “Getting Past the Nazis: The Story of Irena Sendler and the Warsaw Ghetto.”
First place, Senior Individual Performance: Ellie Odle for her monologue “Breaking the Barriers of the Atmosphere: The Teaching of Sputnik.”
First place, Senior Group Documentary: Steph Molloy, Meghan Gardner, and Lauren Hammontree for “The USSR: Defeating Social Hierarchy.”
First place, Senior Group Exhibit: Keller Williamson and Megan Jones for “Cloning: Turning Fiction into Facts.”
First place, Senior Group Performance: Anabel Wilson and Kendall Rizer for “Riding Toward Freedom.”
First place, Senior Group Webpage: Claire Mitchell, Reagan Ziegler, and Meghan Wilson for “The Man Who Broke the Racial Barrier at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: Dr. Horace Traylor.”
Second place, Senior Group Documentary: Anya Parambath, Zoe Howard, and Marina Rodgers for “Rights: Did Women in the Meiji Era Have to Earn Them?”
Second place, Senior Group Exhibit: Kayla Rivers, Louise Brock, and Alivia Harvest for “I Wasn't Supposed to Be at GPS.”
Second place, Senior Group Performance: Rebecca Wyatt and Abby Talton for “The Salem Witch Trials, How Far Have We Come?”
Second place, Senior Group Webpage: Evalynn Mann, Emma McDonald, and Megan Lockhart for “‘What Hath God Wrought?’ Breaking Barriers: The Telegraph.”
Third place, Senior Group Documentary: Alden Mazo, Sophia McGee, Harlan Porfiri, and Anisha Phade for “The Chattanooga Choo-Choo: Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line.”
Third place, Senior Individual Documentary: Hannah Grace Kornberg for “The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Beyond: Breaking Barriers for Women in Politics.”
Third place, Senior Group Exhibit: Rowan Espy and Atlee Elliot for “The Evolution of Teaching Evolution.”