In an ongoing collaboration between the Bedford Historical Society and the Social Studies Department at Bedford High School that began several years ago, the Society honors those students whose work rises to the top of the Massachusetts History Day Competition each spring.
Three Bedford students who qualified in 2019 – Jacqueline Altman, Olivia Lee, and Rahel Burchardt – spoke at the Bedford Historical Society’s first program meeting of their 2019-2020 year.
The Society invites the winners to present capsule views of their projects, and honors them with one of Louise K. Brown’s books, A Revolutionary Town, and a small stipend.
Winner of a first place award at the competition, Jacqueline Altman talked about her project, From the Warsaw Ghetto to Jewish Homes: Irena Sendler Helps Children Find Triumph in the Midst of Tragedy, an individual performance.
Altman learned about Irena Sendler’s work during a visit to Poland, and was able to speak with someone who knew Sendler and shared details about her life and the lengths to which she went to smuggle Jewish children out of the country during World War II.
A Group Documentary, Three Mile Island: The Tragic Negligence of Private Companies and Their Supervising Bodies Prompts a Triumph for Improved Public Safety and the Power of Public Opinion, earned Olivia Lee and Rahel Burchardt a second-place award at Massachusetts History Day.
Burchardt and Lee used multiple original and secondary materials in researching their project, and had multiple conversations in person or via Skype with individuals with specific perspectives on the Three Mile Island tragedy. In describing their ‘takeaways,’ they noted that for new technology projects to succeed, public and private sectors need to work together.
Social Studies program administrator Christine Butler and teacher James Sunderland were in the audience, along with several parents. Jane Franklin, a former teacher at Lane School and a member of the Historical Society, was in the room as well. She and the young women were delighted to reconnect after realizing that all three BHS students had been in Ms. Franklin’s fourth-grade classroom!
About Massachusetts History Day
History students in the BHS Class of 2021 are now developing their projects for next year’s competition, Breaking Barriers in History. The projects will be in one of five presentation categories: Research Paper, Exhibit, Documentary, Performance, or Website.
Local presentations are expected to begin early during the winter of 2021, followed by regional and national competitions.
Massachusetts History Day is an interdisciplinary research project for students in grades 6-12 that encourages exploration of local, state, national, and world history. Each year more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in the National History Day contest.