Exeter High School Students Win Naval History Award at National History Day Contest for Documentary on Portsmouth Peace Treaty

Exeter High School NH History Day Senior Group Documentary team with their medals
The Exeter High School team who won top honors in the statewide History Day competition in April won the runner-up national honors for the Naval History prize and “Outstanding Senior Entry” among all New Hampshire participants at the national competition held at the University of Maryland, June 12-16, 2011.

Chandra Boudreau, Zachary Keefe, Charles Rickarby, Arielle Fleischer, and Ian Smith competed against more than forty films from U.S. states and territories. The students spent eight months researching, filming and editing their 10-minute documentary, “The Portsmouth Peace Treaty: A Victory for the World.”

“It was an outstanding experience, from start to finish,” said Chandra Boudreau. “When we were doing the research and interviews and then editing down all the material we had, it seemed like it would never end. But then when we were in Baltimore, representing New Hampshire and competing with all those others kids and some really amazing projects, it was all worthwhile. We definitely increased awareness of the Russo-Japanese War and the lasting importance of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty."

In addition to research in original source documents related to the Portsmouth Peace Treaty that was negotiated at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard over nearly 30 days in August 1905, the students toured the Shipyard Building 86 Peace Building Museum and the Portsmouth Peace Treaty exhibit in downtown Portsmouth. They interviewed Charles B. Doleac, chairman of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum and author of An Uncommon Commitment to Peace: Portsmouth Peace Treaty 1905, Peter Randall, author of There Are No Victors Here: A Local Perspective on the Treaty of Portsmouth; Navy Public Affairs Officer Gary Hildreth at the Shipyard and Barbara Rimkunas, curator of the Exeter Historical Society. The students’ documentary includes clips of the interviews and historic photographs of the Russian and Japanese envoys in Portsmouth in 1905 and their welcome by local citizens.

The students' film also competed against fifty-six other student productions at the New Hampshire Student Short Film Festival. Their film was a Jury Finalist and earned the Audience Choice Award.

In congratulating her students, Ms. Stevenson said "This is authentic learning at its best. The students did the work of historians and added to the public's understanding of a past event and why it still matters today."

According to the website, “National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students. Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history inter views and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries.”

The Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest in June is the final stage of a series of contests at local and state levels, across the country. The contest is named for Mr. Behring in recognition of his support of NHD. The theme for 2011 was “Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures & Consequences.” In addition to discovering the exciting world of the past, NHD also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success such as critical thinking and problem-solving skills, res earch and reading skills, oral and written communication and presentation skills, self esteem and confidence and a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process.

For more information on National History Day, visit www.nationalhistoryday.org
For more information on the Portsmouth Peace Treaty see www.portsmouthpeacetreaty.org


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