When three students from the tiny, one-school district of Kings River Union Elementary came together months ago to create a project for the county’s National History Day event, their idea of the project looked much different than it did Tuesday, on the day of the big presentation.
Jairo Aguilar, 14, Wendy Martinez, 12, and Matthew Dunn, 14, knew they were creating a performance on Cesar Chavez and other leaders who worked alongside him to bring better working conditions to farm workers, but the students didn’t know much about those other leaders — Dolores Huerta and Fred Ross.
Martinez had never before even heard of Fred Ross.
“I knew a little about Dolores and Chavez,” Martinez said after Tuesday’s event. “I didn’t know there was a Fred Ross. I was like, ‘Who’s he?’ ”
Ross was a civil rights advocate and labor leader who helped form the Community Service Organization, which helped form the United Farm Workers. He died in 1992.
Before an audience of more than 100 students, teachers and parents, the three on Tuesday shared their knowledge, through a theatrical performance, on how the three civil rights leaders were able to conjure up a voice and gain rights for farm workers. And the students each walked away with a $500 scholarship.
Patrick Delgado, a Kings River Union sixth-grade teacher and a coach to students at the school participating in the event, said he’s proud of how his students performed.
“Our student population is usually lower income and Hispanic, and to see these students grasp on to a person they’ve heard of in history and to do thorough research — and there is a connection in Mexican-American leadership that they can connect to in their personal lives, all being Mexican-American and all coming from probably an impoverished, very agricultural background — and now these kids can grasp that and do a performance on that,” Delgado said . “It’s a great growth for them.”
Students from 12 schools throughout Tulare County Tuesday presented 70 projects on a range of historical topics at TCOE’s National History Day which took place at Grace Community Church.
The students created documentaries on the life of gay, American politician Harvey Milk, and on South African leader Nelson Mandela. They gave performances and created websites and displays on the Armenian Genocide, Cesar Chavez, Steve Jobs, Helen Keller and more.
Gay Atmajian, a TCOE consultant and a co-coordinator of the event, said National History Day provides students with research skills and also teaches them how to be civically engaged individuals.
“Through history, through looking at any given year, looking at history in light of this, it helps students see where we have come, where we have been, that they have an active choice and they can see where we are going and that they have a role in shaping our world,” Atmajian said.
The National History Day event, nearing its 20th year in the county, provided participants with not just the platform to learn about a range of historical figures and events, but also provided numerous scholarships, provided by the Tulare County Historical Society, ranging from $250 to $500 to students.
At the end of the event, 20 finalists were also given the invitation to participate in the state history day competition happening in Rocklin in May.
Kevin Branco, a history teacher at Tulare’s harga asus zenfone 5 Palo Verde Union Elementary School, coached two students this year on their creation of a website on Steve Jobs, the former and late CEO of Apple.
This is Branco’s 10th year coaching students for the event.
He said it’s great to watch students grow in their knowledge as they work on their projects.
“It’s a great learning opportunity and harga samsung galaxy v neat to watch students grow throughout the year in what they learn as they work on their projects,” Branco said. “They start out knowing so little and by the end, they know so much.”
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