Students in both junior and senior high travelled to Pompano Beach High School Friday, Feb. 26 for the annual Broward History Fair. Junior high students placed either first or second in every junior division category possible, and senior high students reeled in a significant number of awards as well.
In the junior division (6th – 8th grade), the winners were: Flora Ranis, 1st place historical paper; Joshua Hoffman, 1st place individual documentary; Benjamin Abi-Rafeh and Isabella Khan, 1st place group documentary; Rudy Moise, 1st place individual exhibit; Rohit and Rajat Ramesh, 1st place group exhibit; Kayla Rubenstein, 2nd place individual performance; Alexa Ruiz, Synnove Mikkelsen, and Chloe Trujillo, 2nd place group performance; Logan Kapit, 1st place individual website; and Alexander Kolondra and Rishi Patel, 1st place group website.
Senior division (9th – 12th grade) winners were: Adrianne Morales, 1st place individual documentary; Yiyun Pan (Patricia), 3rd place individual exhibit; and Yash Daftary and Brandon Dinner, 1st place group exhibit.
Mrs. Leslie Porges, junior high history and civics teacher and AHS fair coordinator, said, “The competition was harder than it’s ever been, and our students are amazing.”
This year, American Heritage took 15 projects to the Broward History Fair, and 11 of them (1st and 2nd place winners) will be moving on to the Florida History Fair in May.
To make a project, students conduct in-depth research on a historical topic of their choice, but it must fit the yearly theme – this year’s being “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”
The topics of study vary significantly. Eighth grader Flora Ranis completed a project on the 1879-1881 ill-fated Arctic voyage of the USS Jeannette. Seventh grader Kayla Rubenstein studied how Sarah Tracy, an 18-year-old girl, singlehandedly saved Mount Vernon during the American Civil War, and Alexa Ruiz, Chloe Trujillo, and Synnove Mikkelsen, also seventh graders, completed a group project on the same topic. Seventh graders Benjamin Abi-Rafeh and Isabella Khan researched Dr. Mary Ellen Avery’s medical breakthroughs in the field of premature births and learned how her findings from the 1950s are still useful to doctors today.
All participating students also learn valuable lessons through their projects. Ranis said that the perseverance of the USS Jeanette’s crew demonstrated to her the importance of never giving up. Rubenstein said that the inspirational story of Sarah Tracy taught her that “No matter what time in history it is, no matter how many terrible things are going on, you can still do something amazing.”
Some students put in amazing amounts of effort into their history projects, and many put in more than 100 hours of work. “You couldn’t do more work if you were trying to write a PhD dissertation. People think we have whole divisions of people helping us; people think that parents do it, but no, it’s all the students,” said Mrs. Porges. However, when all’s said and done, students enjoy the whole experience. “You really have to be the project,” said Mikkelsen.