Alexander Congratulates White Pine’s Lauren Collins, First Place Winner in National History Day Competition, and All Tennessee Student Winners and Participants

Applauds the accomplishments of five Tennessee students who received awards and all 54 Tennessee students who participated in the annual competition

Posted on June 17, 2011

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today applauded the achievement of Lauren Collins of White Pine, Tenn., who this week was named a first place winner in the National History Day competition in College Park, Md., and praised the efforts of all 54 Tennessee students who participated in the competition.

“Learning U.S. history is more than memorizing facts from a textbook—it’s learning about the people, events, and ideas that have shaped us as Americans.  I am proud of Lauren Collins and all of the 54 Tennessee students who showed that learning U.S. history can be an exciting, rewarding project. Too many American students are struggling to learn our about our nation’s history and what it means to be an American, but these Tennessee students remind us how important it is that U.S. history is returned to its rightful place in the classroom.”

The Senator had an opportunity to meet with all of the Tennessee students participating in the National History Day competition while they were in Washington.

Five Tennessee students received awards during the competition, which was held at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus this week. Fifty-four Tennessee students participated in the competition. Lauren Collins, a student at White Pine School, won first place in the Junior Individual Documentary category, for her project, “Eminent Domain: Private Tragedies for the Public Good.”

Kelsey Pepper and Courtney Harshbarger of St. George's Middle School in Collierville won the Outstanding State Entry award in the Junior Division for Tennessee for their group exhibit on "The Debates that Changed History: Lincoln-Douglas, 1858.”  Derek Roberts and William Burdette of Polk County High School in Benton won the Outstanding State Entry award in the Senior Division, and were ranked in the top 14 projects in the nation, for their group documentary on “The Good Government League: Debate and Diplomacy after World War II.”

More than 500,000 students in grades six through 12 participate in the National History Day program annually.

On Tuesday, a National Assessment Governing Board report on American students’ achievement in history on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that history is still American students’ worst subject. More than half of 12th graders tested are performing below the Basic level. For example, 88 percent of 12th graders don’t understand the reasons the United States fought in World War I. Senator Alexander said then, about the report: “For middle school and high school students, U.S. history remains our students’ worst subject and we must do better,” Alexander said. “We are making some minor gains, but our students are still performing poorly in history.”

In 1986, during Alexander’s last year as governor of Tennessee, he was asked by then U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett to lead a study group named the Alexander-James Study Group on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The group recommended the creation of what came to be called the National Assessment Governing Board to oversee the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card.

Every year, Alexander brings onto the Senate floor 50 teachers of U.S. history, as part of the Presidential Academy for outstanding history teachers across the nation. Sen. Alexander proposed the creation of Presidential and Congressional Academies for outstanding teachers and students as part of his maiden speech on March 4, 2003 and was the author of the American History and Civics Education Act of 2004 which authorized the creation of the Academies. 

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