University Relations and Communications

History Day state winners move on to national competition

May 3, 2010



Dr. Tom Rust, Montana National History Day coordinator, 657-2891
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269




MSU Billings alumni win state educator honors during annual event


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Students from Billings, Glendive, Geyer and Lewistown took top honors recently at the Montana Association of Realtors Montana National History Day state contest.


photo of iron plow exhibitThe contest, sponsored by the Department of History at Montana State University Billings and the Montana Association of Realtors, was held in late April at the MSU Billings main campus. More than 160 students from five communities participated in the second annual event.


The winning students from Montana will join  students from 48 other states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and the Department of Defense Schools at National History Day’s (NHD) Kenneth E. Behring National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park.


“These young achievers make our state very proud,” said Dr. Tom Rust, assistant professor of history at MSU Billings and Montana’s coordinator for National History Day. “We are thrilled that so many young people from Montana will travel to the National History Day contest to compete with students from across the country. They should be very proud of their achievement, and we are honored to have them represent Montana on a national level.”


The Kenneth E. Behring National Contest will be held June 13-17, at the University of Maryland, College Park. Among the historical paper, documentary, performance, and exhibit categories, students competed in the junior (grades 6-8) or senior (grades 9-12) division and as individual or group entries. This year's theme was “Innovations in History.”


Students from Billings Central Catholic High School, Geyser Public Schools, Castle Rock Middle School (Billings), Lewis and Clark Middle School (Billings), Washington Middle School (Glendive), Billings Senior High School, and the home school communities in Billings and Lewistown created 77 entries judged by historians from across the state. The final rankings are listed below.


In addition to the students, two teachers received the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award.  The award recognizes outstanding National History Day teachers.  The Montana recipients were Shane Fairbanks of Billings Central Catholic High School and Megan Pennington of Washington Middle School in Glendive. Fairbanks and Pennington (both graduates of MSU Billings) were awarded $500 and will compete with other state winners for a national award and $10,000.


Fairbanks teaches AP European and AP U.S. History at Billings Central where he is also the National Honors Society faculty sponsor, the Film Club faculty sponsor and an assistant coach for the girls tennis team.


“Shane was one of the first teachers to embrace National History Day in his classroom after Montana joined the program.  He is an enthusiastic teacher who demands only the best from his students,” said Rust.


Pennington teaches sixth grade world history and geography at Washington Middle School in Glendive.


“Megan’s efforts at implementing National History Day through the entire school were amazing” said Rust. “She not only motivates her classes, but she motivates the other social studies teachers to try the program. The school contest in Glendive was extremely successful.  Not only was it three times larger than the previous years’ state contest, the quality of the entries was outstanding – even among traditionally lower performing student populations.”


National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students.


Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the national contest each June.


In addition to discovering the exciting world of the past, NHD also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success:

  • critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • research and reading skills
  • oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • self esteem and confidence
  • a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

More than 5 million students have gone on to careers in business, law, medicine and countless other disciplines where they are putting into practice what they learned through NHD.


Winners of the Montana competition for 2010 are:


Junior Individual Exhibit

  1. Surveillance Cameras, Moran Wetz, Washington Middle School, Glendive
  2. Up in Steam, Carter Webber, Lewis and Clark Middle School, Billings
  3. The Jazz Age, Ariana Roe, Washington Middle School, Glendive

Junior Group Exhibit

  1. The Iron Plow, Dalton Crai and Alladin Baer, Washington Middle School, Glendive
  2. The Light Bulb, Jennifer Morse, Samantha Garton, and Sammy Nemitz     Castle Rock Middle School, Billings In the Crosshairs, Ty Marin and Jessy Annala, Geyser Public Schools

Senior Individual Exhibit

  1. The European Union as a Peace Holder Organization, Mira Peters, Billings Central Catholic High School
  2. The Evolution of Computers, Grant Emery, Billings Central Catholic High School
  3. Innovations in Solar Energy, Derek Hoerner, Billings Central Catholic High School

Senior Group Exhibit

  1. Rousseau: Learning through the Ages,    Molly Brown and Margaret Wilmouth, Billings Central Catholic High School
  2. The Polio Vaccine, Hillary Hunt and Hayley Mork, Billings Central Catholic High School
  3. Insulin: A God Send to Diabetic Children, Shannon Hagan and Lauren Robinson, Billings Central Catholic High School

Junior Individual Documentary

  1. Cell Phones: Behind the Ring Tone, Oscar Thomas, Lewis and Clark Middle School, Billings
  2. Innovations in Flight, Zac Zaccardi, Castle Rock Middle School, Billings
  3. Military Robotics, Carter Knight, Castle Rock Middle School, Billings

Junior Group Documentary

  1. Apollo Missions, Kaleb Burkak, Landyr Manful,  and Amada Eastman, Castle Rock Middle School, Billings

Senior Individual Documentary

  1. Race to Space, Emily Berquist, Billings Central Catholic High School
  2. Sigmund Freud, Karissa Wick, Billings Central Catholic High School

Senior Group Documentary

  1. Woodstock Festival 1969: 3 Days of Peace and Music, Bethany LeBrun, Janell Roe, Taylor Eubank, Billings Central Catholic High School
  2. Camp Darwin, Katelynn Lynch, Naomi Yakawich, Staci Mueller, Cody Rummell, Central Catholic Central High School
  3. The Roman Got Burned: The Archimedes Siege Weapons, Jubal Rife, Devon Sutton, Michael Drake, Home School

Junior Group Performance

  1. Louis Armstrong: An Innovation in Jazz, Sierra Reid, Maddie Smith, Nicole Nielson, Maren Lundgren, Alex Chase, Castle Rock Middle School, Billings
  2. Taekwando, Dylan Mangum and John Pisk, Washington Middle School, Glendive

Senior Group Performance
1: The Safety Pin: A small But Epi

  1. Innovation, Hannah Orth and Louisa Wilkinson, Home School
  2. Can’t Eat Just One: The Invention, History and Impact of the Potato Chip, Jacquelin and Allison Garver, Home School

Senior Individual Performance

  1. Nikola Tesla: A Visionary Genius, Matthew Simpson, Ross Fork Home School, Lewistown

Junior Website

  1. The Pictures are Moving, Kaydance Benzing and Taylor Randel, Geyser Public Schools
  2. The Killer: Innovation of Spanish Influenze, Katherine Talbert, Geyser Public Schools
  3. The Platinum Group Metals, Gerald Biebink, Lewis and Clark Middle School, Billings

Senior Website

  1. Innovation of Title IX in Rural Montana, Katie McDonald, Geyser Public Schools
  2. Blues: Made in America, Daylor McFate, Home School
  3. Can You Hear Me Now? Evolution of the Cell Phone, Catie Hanser & Kelsi Ray, Billings Central Catholic High School

Junior Paper

  1. The Development and Proliferation of Nuclear and Atomic Weapons, Willy Schuman-Kline, Lewis and Clark Middle School
  2. Innovations in Childhood Cancer Research, Tyler Stenson, Home School

Senior Paper

  1. The Doolittle Raid: An Innovation that Changed the World, Nathan Stenson, Home School.

For more information on the Montana Association of Realtors Montana National History Day, contact Rust at 657-2891.


PHOTO ABOVE: Dalton Crai and Alladin Baer of Washington Middle School in Glendive set up their exhibit on the development of the iron plow at the Montana Association of Realtors Montana National History Day state contest held recently at MSU Billings. Crai and Baer won first place in the junior group exhibit and qualified for the national competition.