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HMS students win state-level history contest

Morgan Gibson and Sophie Hrad, eighth grade students from Hanscom Air Force Base Middle School, Mass., came in first place during the state-level National History Day competition for the junior group documentary category. The Hanscom students beat out more than 380 other submissions and will advance to the national competition in June.

Morgan Gibson and Sophie Hrad, eighth grade students from Hanscom Air Force Base Middle School, Mass., came in first place during the state-level National History Day competition for the junior group documentary category. The Hanscom students beat out more than 380 other submissions and will advance to the national competition in June.

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Two students from Hanscom Middle School were recently recognized at the Massachusetts National History Day competition for winning first place in the junior documentary category.

Morgan Gibson and Sophie Hrad, HMS eighth graders, will go on to compete at the national level for their documentary, “Ida B. Wells: Princess of the Press.” The 2021 theme was “Communication through history.”

“Part of what makes this accomplishment so impressive is that Morgan and Sophie did so much of this work on their own time, on top of their daily school work,” said Jay Peledge, HMS teacher and NHD co-advisor. “They are both high-achieving students.”

The NHD competition engages more than 500,000 middle and high school students from across the U.S. throughout the school year and reinforces research and reading skills. The Hanscom students beat out more than 380 other Massachusetts competitors to qualify in categories of written papers, websites, exhibitions and documentaries.

Throughout their research, Gibson and Hrad contacted journalists, historians and members of the Ida B. Wells Society to develop their documentary.

“It’s really incredible and fulfilling as a teacher to see students become so involved with a project outside of school,” said Peledge.

Gibson and Hrad’s documentary was selected to show at the Massachusetts Historical Society’s 2021 Juneteenth Showcase.

“Sophie and I were both so excited to have earned a place in the national competition, and for our documentary to be shown at the MHS Juneteenth showcase is just an honor,” said Gibson, who also competed in the 2020 NHD competition.

The 2021 competition marks the fifth year Hanscom students have advanced to the national level. Gibson, who also was accepted to the national iCivics Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship Program last October, is the first student to advance twice.