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Local sixth-graders win National History Day contest


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Molly Whyte and Sophia Pariona. | Courtesy photos

BLACKFOOT — Two sixth-graders at Mountain View Middle School received first place in their group performance category for National History Day.

Each year, organizers at National History Day begin by choosing a theme. Students then research topics in history relating to that theme with primary and secondary sources, and organize their research into one of five categories: website, documentary, exhibit, paper or live performance.

Molly Whyte and Sophia Pariona both enjoy drama, so they decided to do a live performance. With this year being the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment being ratified, giving women the right to vote, the two knew they wanted to research a women’s rights topic.

Their teacher, Vicki Chase, encouraged them to also focus on Idaho history. The team eventually decided to research the 1971 Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed, a case which occurred after Sally Reed lost administration of the estate of her deceased son to her separated husband because Idaho code at the time stated “males must be preferred.”

Students participating in NHD first present their research at a regional conference, where Sophia and Molly got first place and invited to attend the state competition. At this point, however, COVID-19 restrictions made the competition complicated.

“For the state contest, we were under lockdown,” Chase told

She said the contest had to shift to a digital version, and the students had to adjust their script to be better presented by video.

However, Chase added that this ended up being helpful to Sophia and Molly. The cost of traveling to the state or national competitions can be too expensive for some of those who qualify, especially those in the performance category who also need to transport costumes and props.

In the state contest, those who place first or second in their category can advance to the national level. Despite the challenges, Sophia and Molly placed first in their category, and were invited to the national level.

This year, for the “national” competition, NHD had invited other countries to participate, making it international. There were 84 entries at the junior group performance category. Some were from the United States, and others from areas like China, Korea and South Asia.

On Saturday, Molly and Sophia were announced as winners in their category.

Chase said her students’ accomplishment was significant.

“In 26 years I have had plenty of students make it to nationals, but the best they made it was a fourth-place placement,” she said. “They are just absolutely sweet girls. Just the cream of the crop. … I am so extremely proud of their hard work and their accomplishments.”