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May 14, 2018 05:09 PM

South Dakota Students to Compete in National History Day Competition

Eighth graders at Memorial Middle School are headed to Washington, D.C., for a special history lesson. The South Dakota students placed high enough in the statewide History Day competition and will now compete in the national competition. They're already practicing for the next round.

"I'm 18 now. I can do adult things."
"Like vote for our government?"
 "You know I'm only interested in voting for important things like American Idol."

This sounds like a present-day problem in America, right? This is actually dialogue from a scene Annika Svenningsen and her classmates are doing. The plot is meant to give us a better look at a past generation of women, who worked for a better future. 

"Susan B. Anthony, she died before she was even able to vote, which is sad to think about because she dedicated her entire life to getting Women's Suffrage," Annika said.

This character's journey is the focus of a play Svenningsen and her group did for History Day. 

"In the end, she kind of learns her lesson about how important it is to vote," Annika said. 

It's their ticket to the national competition. 

"It's crazy. I can't even believe it's happening!" Liv Ver Steeg said. 

The eighth graders at Memorial Middle School started researching topics months ago to make projects like plays and interactive websites. One of the websites shows the trajectory following World War I. 

"Everything just snowballed, right? It went from the Treaty of Versailles to the economic collapse to Hitler to World War II," Jackson Potter said. 

Jackson says winning in D.C. would feel good, but says his project is showing him how valuable it is to have history courses in school. 

"If you don't learn about history, you'll repeat the mistakes," Jackson said. 

Whether it's in a scene or on a screen, the past is teaching our future generation a valuable lesson: Working hard is how you make history. 

"Anything is possible with a lot of hard work and we've definitely worked for what we've gotten to, how we've gotten this far, and I hope it just shows other people it's possible for them, too," Liv said. 

The students will go to Washington, D.C., in June, and compete with others from all 50 states and seven other countries. 

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