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Students win Best of State Prizes for history exhibits

National History Day finals were held at the University of Maryland near Washington, D.C. A delegation of Vermont students who placed first or second at the Vermont History Day state competition in April participated in the national competition.

Twenty-six local students attended the Washington event-this year's theme was "The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies." Andrew Rainville from Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol and Hannah Sturtevant from Vergennes Union High School received the Best of the State prizes-Rainville for his exhibit on John Deere and Sturtevant for her J. Edgar Hoover exhibit.

Elle Ross of Clarendon's Mill River Union High School and Holly Cloutier from Black River High School in Ludlow also ranked in the top third (papers and exhibits).

Vermont representatives met the students on the U.S. Capitol steps in Washington. Students presented the government officials with Vermont History Day buttons and took the opportunity to have photographs taken with the famous dome providing the backdrop.

Vermont History Day is an education program that encourages students to study history and it provides the opportunity to share the knowledge they have gained. Every year, the program is open to Vermont students in grades six through 12, including home-school students.

Working individually or in small groups, this year's student participants chose an historical event on a topic related to the National History Day theme. With research done in libraries, museums, and historical societies, as well as interviews and site visits to explore their topic, students prepared papers, exhibits, documentaries, web sites, or performances as entries.

In the spring, the entries were judged by local historians, educators, and other professionals. Students said they gained a deeper understanding of how people, cultures, and events affect the course of history.

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