Tuesday, June 28, 2011

San Ramon student does well in recent National History Day National Final

Julienne Sauer in front of her exhibit.
Windemere Ranch Middle School student Julienne Sauer did a wonderful job representing Contra Costa County at last week’s National History Day (NHD) Finals, held at the University of Maryland.   Sauer was a National Finalist in the Junior (middle school) Individual Exhibit category and placed 10th in the nation among 84 junior individual exhibit projects.  

NHD is a national program, with state and regional (county-level) competitions, in which middle and high school students prepare projects – posters, exhibits, papers, websites, dramatic performances and documentary films – on a historical theme.  Students can choose to enter as individuals (as did Sauer) or teams (two-to-five members).  During the 2010-2011 school year, National History Day invited students to research topics related to the theme of Diplomacy and Dialogue in History: Successes, Failures, and Consequences.   This program provides an opportunity for students to improve academic achievement through deep and broad study addressing multiple standards and including tasks such as formulating questions, reading widely and thoroughly, bridging reading to writing, doing primary research, evaluating evidence, organizing, presenting, explaining and defending ideas.

Sauer’s exhibit title was: The Cable Car Wars: A City Debates to Preserve its Character.   She said her interest in this topic began when she visited San Francisco’s Cable Car Museum.  She had always enjoyed riding the country’s only moveable landmarks in the past, but she became fascinated with the science behind the cable cars, their history, and why they were the city’s symbol.  “When I found out that San Francisco almost lost its beloved cable cars and a public debate had saved them, I immediately knew that I had the right topic for this year’s NHD theme,” says Sauer.

The NHD California State Competition has been held since 1999, but this was the first year that Contra Costa County students had competed in the program.  “It began last year when representatives from the Kenneth Behring Foundation approached Dr. Joseph Ovick, County Superintendent of Schools, on developing this new county-wide academic event, reports Chief Communications Officer Peggy Marshburn of the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).  “We recruited student and teacher participation throughout the county, and the Foundation provided a $5000.00 grant to assist our students and their teachers with the costs of participating in this excellent program.”  For more than 20 years, the CCCOE has directed other annual county-wide academic events, including Mock Trial, Model UN, and Academic Decathlon.
On March 12, Sauer was one of 15 Contra Costa County students who competed in the NHD local competition, along with students from nine other nearby counties.  The event was held at the Oakland Museum of California, located in Oakland, Calif.  The (then) six-grade student and 13 other Contra Costa County participants went on to the NHD California State Competition, which was held on April 28, in San Jose, Calif.  Winning her category, Sauer was the only Contra Costa County participant to go on to the national competition.

Julienne at the NHD opening ceremony at the University of Maryland 
Sauer’s mother, Sia, says “Julienne really enjoyed the whole experience, including meeting Mr. Behring and his family.  They told her how proud they were to have someone from Contra Costa competing at the finals.” 

Julienne’s mother continued, “We are grateful to the Behring Foundation and the CCCOE for making this possible.  Julienne says she can't wait to start next year's project now that she has seen how amazing the competition is at the nationals!”