Don't be surprised if, a few years from now, a documentary on television's History Channel has familiar Lawrence names in the credits.
History students from Central Junior High School, Lawrence High School and Free State High School recently walked away with first- or second-place honors for projects at Kansas History Day in Topeka - with several of them winning for historical documentary videos.
Fifteen Lawrence students are going on to the National History Day competition in June in the Washington, D.C., area. That's almost 30 percent of the 51 students from Kansas who made the cut for nationals.
"The quality of those student documentaries is really impressive," said Tari Perdue, gifted facilitator at Central who helped six Central students and three FSHS students qualify for nationals. "The quality is higher than some of the documentaries the educational companies try to sell to schools."
Mike Ortmann, a history teacher at LHS, has worked with fellow history teachers Valerie Schrag and Tracy Murray to coach six LHS students to qualify for the nationals.
"In many ways, this brings a real, in-depth level of insight and critical thinking for these students," Ortmann said.
While some students won for their documentaries, others won for exhibits and individual or group performances.
Ortmann said the students worked very hard themselves. And he knows that a lot of parents supported the students in their efforts, too.
"This is a lot of time and effort that's involved on the home front to get a lot of these things done," he said. "It's just been a really good working relationship between the students and the teachers."
Students and their projects are heading to the National History Day competition June 10-14 in College Park, Md., a Washington, D.C., suburb that is home to the University of Maryland.
Perdue said students are raising funds to help pay for the trip. Those wishing to donate funds may make checks payable to Central Junior High/History Day and mail them to Central Junior High School, attention Mary Ann, 1400 Mass., Lawrence 66044.