Craig Middle School students compete in National History Day |

Craig Middle School students compete in National History Day

— Craig Middle School’s gifted and talented students recently traveled to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, where they competed in events for National History Day.

It’s the first year CMS students participated in the competition. Sixth-graders chose a topic to research and present that fell under the theme “Turning points in history: People, ideas and events.”

Students could choose one of five ways to present information: a documentary, a formal paper, a posterboard display, a webpage or a dramatic re-enactment. Students had to develop a thesis statement and use multiple research sources to find supporting evidence.

CMS sixth-grade gifted and talented teacher Ken Olinger said he appreciated that the project lent itself to different learning styles and engaged students with the new districtwide Understanding by Design curriculum. The assignment was cross-curricular, involving writing, research and public presentation skills.

Olinger said the assignment was more of an outcome-based program and performance assessment.

Students in the class worked in groups or alone and chose a variety of projects, including a documentary entry and a webpage.

Topics chosen by the students included the Underground Railroad, the Pikes Peak gold rush, how the Egyptian pyramids were built, famous wildlife photographers and the women’s suffrage movement.

Students conducted first-person interviews and accessed local resources such as the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

“It was a great connection to the community,” Olinger said.

One student in Olinger’s class, Alicea Dideirich, took second at the regional competition in the documentary category, pushing her through to the next round at the state level.

Alicea’s documentary followed the women’s suffrage movement and included interviews with her grandmother.

“It was a cool experience and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Alicea said. “I was not expecting to go to state.”

Olinger said he hopes to continue taking his students to the competition in the future and also hopes to have more local competitions down the road.

“We need more academic competitions,” Olinger said. “Students have different minds and academic competitions create outlets for creative thinking.”

Darian Warden can be reached at 970-875-1793 or

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