Four Waco ISD students were recognized at the Waco ISD Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, for their success at the National History Day competition in June. One of the students, Harper Hoover, even received a standing ovation for her accomplishment.
Waco ISD has a long tradition of success at history fair competition, and the quest for gold has placed dozens of Waco ISD students as national finalists over the past decade.
Beginning early in the fall, more than a half-million students nationwide choose their topics and begin their research.
Of those, about 45,000 are from Texas.
Waco ISD students compete at the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair at Baylor University in February.
By finishing first or second at Region, students advance to Texas History Day in Austin.
And by finishing first or second in Austin, students’ advance to National History Day in College Park, Maryland.
Numerous times over the past 13 year, the elusive gold medal has been within arms reach for many Waco ISD students.
But this year was different, thanks to Harper Hoover who is no stranger to the high level of stress associated with the national competition.
As a seventh-grader, Harper placed tenth in the national competition.
But this year she returned home with the gold medal and a smile on her face.
Her quest for the gold medal this year began as an eighth-grader at ATLAS Academy when she won first-place at regionals, first-place at state, and finally first-place and the gold medal at the National History Day competition.
Harper’s junior division individual performance entitled, “Dare to Explore,” examined the National Geographic Society and how it forever changed the scientific community.
Harper, now a ninth-grader at Waco High School, is the daughter of Paula and Carl Hoover.
ATLAS Academy eighth-grader Brigitte Eichenberg and seventh-grader Neal DuPuy placed first at both the regional and state competitions in the junior group performance division for their project, “Martin and Osa Johnson: For the Love of Adventure.”
They finished in sixth-place at the national competition.
Brigitte is the daughter of Gretchen and Alex Eichenberg. She is in the ninth-grade at Waco High School.
Neal is the son of Mandi and Cary DuPuy, and he is now an eighth-grader at ATLAS Academy.
Last year, Brigitte and Neal earned a silver medal at the national competition for their junior level group performance.
And finally, Gloria Conatser, won second-place in the senior individual documentary division at both the regional and state competitions, and qualified for nationals with her exploration of art through the Great Migration.
In 2015, Gloria earned a bronze medal at the national competition for her individual documentary in the junior level category.
Gloria is the daughter of Julieta and Kyle Conatser.
These students have not made the journey to nationals alone. In addition to their supportive parents, they have had guidance from some of the very best social studies teachers, including Ernest Garth, Kristeen Williams, and, Waco ISD’s Social Studies Content Specialist, Dr. Robert Glinski.