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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich announces 2007 Student Historians of the Year
15 junior and senior high school students have best essays published in a statewide history magazine

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the 2007 Student Historians of the Year. Fifteen student historians are being recognized for their outstanding essays published in Illinois History magazine, the nation’s oldest history magazine written by and for junior and senior high school students. The students published the essays during the past year in Illinois History magazine on topics ranging from segregation to parks to Abraham Lincoln’s family life.

“These bright and talented students dug into Illinois history and produced thoughtful and insightful essays,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Their work will give other Illinois students a better appreciation of our state’s rich heritage.”

The winning students wrote essays that appeared in the January, February and April 2007 editions of Illinois History magazine, a publication founded in 1947 and written by junior and senior high school students in the state. It is published by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s Education Services Program, which also publishes Illinois History Teacher, a publication that contains teaching materials. For more information, visit www.Illinois-History.gov and click on “Education Services.”

Five of the fifteen students were singled out for special recognition as having the best-written and best-researched essays. These five winners, who each receive $50 in prize money, are:

• Oscar Smith, Senior Research Award
Al Raby School for Community and Environment, Chicago. Teacher: Stacy Wright
January 2007 Illinois History
Title: “Was there Agreement on the Chicago Freedom Movement Summit Agreement?”

“Was there Agreement on the Chicago Freedom Movement Summit Agreement?” Oscar’s answer is “no.” The activists on behalf of the movement for equality in housing and education in Chicago in 1965-1967, formally known as the Chicago Freedom Movement, did not agree. However, they understood it was “a step toward equality,” in Oscar’s words. His research is distinguished by the use of sources from the time about which he wrote.

• Christine Herron, Senior Writing Award
Al Raby School for Community and Environment, Chicago. Teacher: Stacey Wright
January 2007 Illinois History
Title: “The Chicago Freedom Movement and Education.”

Christine wrote convincingly about the efforts to reform education in Chicago in the mid-twentieth century. One of the most influential local leaders was Al Raby, a former Chicago school teacher and civil rights activist, who brought Martin Luther King Jr. into the city to campaign against segregated schools.

• David Robertson, Junior Research Award
Washington Gifted School, Peoria. Teacher: Janelle Dies
April 2007 Illinois History
Title: “Bradley Park”

David’s research is outstanding for its heavy reliance on books and newspaper accounts for his subject. Students might easily have mistaken the subject of the April issue (“Parks––State, County, and Municipal”) as light-hearted, but David’s work traced the origins of Bradley Park in Peoria back through the biography of Laura Bradley who was born in Indiana in 1816. David wrote: “Although Peorians believe Laura Bradley Park was merely founded as a playground, it has influenced Peoria’s history, recreation, beauty, and fine arts.”

• Christine South, Junior Research Award
Booth School, Enfield. Teacher: Larry Hughes
January 2007 Illinois History
Title: “Segregation in Carmi, Illinois”

Christine, a seventh grader, wrote a remarkably researched paper on a little known topic. She traced this subject from the late-nineteenth century through mid-twentieth century, noting the achievements of several African American people from the area. Christine used newspapers and also an interview with Margaret Dungy, an African American resident who lived through much of the discrimination.

• Prem Thottumkara, Junior Writing Award
Macomb Junior High School. Teacher: Brock Bainter
January 2007 Illinois History
Title: “Oscar Stanton De Priest: Fighting ‘Jim Crow’ Inside the United States Congress”

Prem demonstrated an exceptional talent for telling an important story very well. De Priest was a Chicagoan in the U. S. Congress from 1929 to 1935. As an African American, he confronted discrimination in several areas in Congress and, ultimately, when he and his son were refused service in the Congressional restaurant. Prem concludes that although De Priest failed to win re-election “his actions against inhumane Jim Crow laws will be remembered as significant contributions towards racial equality.”

The ten other Student Historians of the Year for 2007 all receive certificates. They include:

Jacob Eilers, Junior Category
All Saints Academy, Breese. Teacher: Stephanie Garcia
Title: “The Largest Park in Illinois”
April 2007 Illinois History

Cara C. Schornak, Junior Category
Good Shepherd Lutheran School, Collinsville. Teacher: Michael Voss
Title: “Myra Colby Bradwell: Women’s Rights Activist”
January 2007 Illinois History

Amy Huelsmann, Junior Category
All Saints Academy, Breese. Teacher: Stephanie Garcia
Title: “Mary Todd Lincoln”
February 2007 Illinois History

Selena Bantel, Junior Category
Good Shepherd Lutheran School, Collinsville. Teacher: Michael Voss
Title: “Early Phases of Segregation in Cairo, Illinois”
January 2007 Illinois History

Casmeer Reyes, Junior Category
Washington Gifted School, Peoria. Teachers: Mindy Juriga and Janelle Dies
Title: “The Impact of Wildlife Prairie Park on Peoria”
April 2007 Illinois History

Katie Chambers, Senior Category
Carbondale Community High School. Teacher: Nick Weshinskey
Title: “The Todd Family Divided”
February 2007 Illinois History

Luke Zaczek, Senior Category
Carbondale Community High School. Teacher: Nick Weshinskey
Title: “Fort Massac: Reliving History”
April 2007 Illinois History

Colby Kenney, Senior Category
Oregon High School. Teacher: Sara Werckle
Title: “Abraham Lincoln and His Family”
February 2007 Illinois History

Emily Peterson, Senior Category
Oregon High School. Teacher: Sara Werckle
Title: “The Influence of Lincoln’s Mothers”
February 2007 Illinois History

Charles Williams, Senior Category
Al Raby School for Community and Environment, Chicago. Teacher: Stacy Wright
Title: “Housing and the Chicago Freedom Movement”
January 2007 Illinois History

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s annual Illinois History Expo, scheduled for May 9 in Springfield, will showcase the papers, media presentations, projects, exhibits and performances of nearly 1,400 of the top junior and senior high school history students in the state.



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