Belle Vernon students show grasp of history
Belle Vernon Area Middle School student Rebecca Holderbaum's journey to create a poster about Native Americans committing atrocities against area settlers began with a trip last summer to Ryerson State Park in Greene County.
It was in the state park west of Waynesburg that the eighth-grade student heard about the massacre of the Davis family in about 1790. Her interested sparked, she dug into the region's history and learned about several other massacres of settlers by the Native Americans, which she said in her project was a precursor to the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s.
Standing next to her exhibit, “Atrocity Across the Appalachia: The Forgotten Cause of the Whiskey Rebellion,” at the recent Primary Sources History Day Competition at California University of Pennsylvania, Holderbaum said she wanted to tell the story of the early-day settlers once she realized what they were fighting for.
“I didn't know many of the causes of the rebellion at all to start with, but when I realized that Native American attacks had something to do with it, I thought it was interesting. I had no idea it was that complicated,” Holderbaum said last week.
Holderbaum was one of about 68 students from the Belle Vernon Area, Brownsville Area, Fort Cherry, Trinity and Uniontown Area school districts who competed in the Primary Sources History Day Competition at California University of Pennsylvania on Feb. 26. During the past several months, the students did research and analysis on historical persons, significant events or issues to create the projects – on posterboard, videos, documentaries, websites, performances and historical research papers.
With assistance from her mother, Cathie, a graphic designer, she created her elaborate exhibit, complete with artwork from famed Eastern Indian painter Robert Griffing and information about the massacres. She won a second-place award for her exhibit.
The projects and topics varied from local history like Pontiac's Rebellion of 1763, national history like the evolution of rights for African Americans and women's rights to international topics such as Nazi Germany armaments minister Albert Speer, created by a distant relative of Speer's.
The competition among classmates and among students from other schools helped to prepare them for the recent regional National History Day competition. Almost 500 students from 27 schools in four counties participated in the contest on March 1 and 2 at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
Two Belle Vernon Area High School students, Jessica Moody and Tim Hudak, as well as five middle school students — Dylan Haney, Bradley Kennedy, Jacob Davis, Jordan Hartman and Taylor Cooper — received awards to advance to the state competition at Millersville University of Pennsylvania on May 12 and 13.
Working on the history projects also helps to prepare the students for college, said Michael J. Brna, director of the teacher professional development program for Cal U's Teaching with Primary Sources program, which sponsored the contest in collaboration with Cal U's history and political science department.
“It involves reading, writing, listening skills, as well as research skills. It gives them a chance to share what is their passion,” said Brna, who leads a Library of Congress-funded program that primarily serves teachers in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
The history competition was great way for the students to use primary sources in the classroom, said Tony Salvucci, a Brownsville Area High School history teacher who brought 10 students who produced three exhibits in the competition. It was the first year that Brownsville fielded a team in the competition, Salvucci said.
“This year was a learning experience for me and the students,” Salvucci said.
Two Brownsville Area High School juniors produced anexhibit on the evolution of African American rights from the 1600s to the present, focusing on how much their rights and responsibilities have improved. Brooke Murray and Victoria Dubos said they were inspired to select the topic, “The Evolution of African American Privileges,” because they are studying the issue in school and the U.S. has its first African-American president in Barack Obama.
Former Brownsville Mayor Norma Ryan, who joined with retired educators, students and staff from Cal U and the Heinz History Center in judging the exhibits, was impressed with what the students had created.
“These young students put so much thought and energy into one subject. It gives you inspiration for the future,” Ryan said.
Ryan was pleased that students from Brownsville Area High School, who are from a town with so much history dating back to the colonial period, were participating in the History Day contest for the first time.
“I'm really inspired to know there are young kids who care about history,” Ryan said.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 8 charged following fight in California
- Rostraver police investigating alleged sexual misconduct between Ringgold HS employee, student
- Sutersville denied grant to fix boat ramp
- Rostraver man faces trial in child sex case
- Scottdale costume shop not just for Halloween, Christmas
- Charleroi man accused of improper sexual contact with teen
- Ringgold senior headed to U.S. Naval Academy
- Monongahela man injured in house fire
- Scottdale-filmed ‘Gore Orphanage’ wins online contest
- Woman identified in fatal Washington crash
- Children hurt in 2-vehicle crash at busy Carroll intersection