The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 6, 2012

IUP event nurtures new attitudes about history

INDIANA — Students from nine counties trekked to Indiana University of Pennsylvania for an opportunity to show off their knowledge of history.

The university hosted the National History Day regional competition for students in middle and high school.

Elizabeth Ricketts, IUP history department assistant professor and event committeewoman, said 236 students competed from 15 schools representing Cambria, Indiana, Blair, Clearfield, Armstrong, Centre, Jefferson, Huntingdon and Elk counties.

Students competed in two divisions: Junior, grades six to eight, and senior, grades nine to 12.

Participants competed in all 11 categories this year.

Werner D. Lippert, IUP history department associate professor, said the student competition continued throughout the day March 30 at the Hadley Union Building. An awards ceremony closed the competition.

“About 45 students are going on to the state competition,” Lippert said as he relaxed at Hadley once the students were on their way home.  

Lippert said the competition has been such a success that IUP alumni who become teachers often bring students from their schools.

Joe M. Perkovich, a 2010 IUP graduate and social studies teacher at Northern Cambria High School, brought a team of four students. Adam J. Clevenger, an IUP student teacher at Indiana Area Senior High School, assisted that team.

“This is a good day to get students engaged in history,” Clevenger said. “It shows them there’s more to it than just a textbook.”

Lippert agreed the competition takes history out of the textbook for the students and leaves them with a different attitude toward the subject.

“We think of history as dates, facts and memorization a lot of times,” Lippert said. “This creates a lasting memory with these students.”

“The kids loved it,” Melissa L. Kalwanaski, Westmont Middle School adviser, said. “They have to go in alone and present in front of the judges and did very well.”

Eight of Kalwanaski’s students moved on to the state competition to be held May 4-5 at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg.

Winners there will compete at the national history day contest in June at the University of Maryland in College Park.

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