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GC students take top honors at National Fair

Published June 16, 2006

Goose Creek school district participants brought national recognition to their schools and community after winning top honors at the National History Day competition on June 15. All six Goose Creek students who advanced to the national contest earned one of the highest awards presented.

Only those students who placed first or second at the state competition advanced to National History Day, which was held at the University of Maryland this week.

Stuart Tiller, who just completed his eighth-grade year at Gentry Junior School, won the second-place silver medal for his individual exhibit. Stuart, the son of Mark and Nan Tiller, was presented with the award for “And We Fought for Texas . . .The Defenders of the Alamo: Few Stand Against Many.”

Stuart, who presented information on the Alamo defenders’ impact on Texas and American history, was the student of Jenice Coffey.

Sarah James, who will be a junior at Ross S. Sterling High School this fall, won the third-place bronze medal for her historical paper. This was Sarah’s third trip to the national competition after placing first in the state historical paper competition the past three years.

Her paper, “Taking a Stand Against Indiscriminate Pesticide Use: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring,” examined how Carson’s work changed public perception about the dangers of chemicals in the environment. She is the daughter of Barry and Kellye James and the student of Donna Britt.

The team of four students from Baytown Junior School earned third-place bronze medals for their group exhibit, “Vietnam War College Protests: 13 Seconds That Altered 13 Years of War.” Team members, taught by Peter Cushman, included Kaitlyn Martin, Mary Grosjean, Marlee Burns and Karsyn Jackson.

Their exhibit demonstrated how college students taking a stand against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War not only influenced the country’s withdrawal from the war, but also brought dramatic change to federal laws.

Kaitlyn is the daughter of Randee King and Ken Martin, and Mary is the daughter of Trisha and Don Grosjean. Marlee’s parents are Carrie and Glenn Jennings and Mike Burns, and Karsyn’s parents are Frankie and Scott Jackson.

“These Goose Creek students who are winners at National History Day represent hundreds of other Goose Creek students who began their journey of history research back in the fall semester of this past school year,” said Hal Davis, Goose Creek social studies specialist. “It is a credit to their perseverance, the dedication of their teachers, and of course, support from their parents that they were able to become winners. They competed against other students from all 50 states as well as U.S. territories, and to realize what they have achieved is amazing!”

Donna Britt, history teacher at Sterling High School, also was honored at the national contest as one of the 10 finalists for the Richard T. Farrell Teacher of Merit Award for outstanding success in teaching history. Britt, whose students consistently win awards in regional and state history competitions each year, was among those recognized for developing and using creative methods to make history interesting for students.

“Donna epitomizes excellence in social studies teaching, and she has the utmost respect of her fellow teachers, parents and students in this school district as well as across the state of Texas,” Davis said. “She goes far in helping her students recognize and develop their interest in history, spending many hours with students developing excellent and challenging History Day projects at the campus, region, state and national level. Many of her students have participated in National History Day at the University of Maryland because she has been their guiding force.”

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