CHS students show history know-how
by Rory Doyle
Mar 05, 2013 | 4811 views | 0 0 comments | 304 304 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two Cleveland High School students won top awards at the National History Day State Competition held at the University of Southern Mississippi on Feb. 23. Senior Clayton Norquist (left) and sophomore Manuella Portilla (right) will be accompanied by teacher Glena Weeks at the national competition in June at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Two Cleveland High School students won top awards at the National History Day State Competition held at the University of Southern Mississippi on Feb. 23. Senior Clayton Norquist (left) and sophomore Manuella Portilla (right) will be accompanied by teacher Glena Weeks at the national competition in June at the University of Maryland at College Park.
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Four Cleveland High students represented the school well strong performances at the National History Day State Competition held Feb. 23 at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Over 100 high schoolers traveled to Hattiesburg to face off in various categories, which focused on historical topics of the student's choice.

Senior Clayton Norquist finished first in the category of individual performance, while sophomore Manuella Portilla finished second in the exhibit category.

Senior Keirra Birch and sophomore Molly Jackson also competed in categories.

CHS social studies teacher Glena Weeks instructs all of the competitors and has been their guiding mentor throughout the research and preparation phases that took a couple months.

"I'm very proud of their performance considering this is the first year we took part in the event," said Weeks. "We had two out of four students qualify for the national competition in June — that's pretty good."

As top finishers at in the Mississippi NHD contest, Norquist and Portilla are now eligible to attend the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park, just outside of Washington, D.C., beginning June 9.

This is where the best NHD projects from across the United States, American Samoa, Guam, International Schools and Department of Defense Schools in Europe all meet and compete.

"I was not expecting to make it all the way to the national competition," said Norquist, who was awarded for the song he wrote and performed in perspective of a soldier stationed at Valley Forge.

"I really hope to win a scholarship — I could really use it," added Norquist.

Portilla, who created a trifold exhibit about the importance of penicillin since its discovery, was also thrilled to be moving up to the nationals.

"I'm proud to be competing against all the other states and I'm happy to see all the hard work and research paid off," said Portilla.

While both students are looking forward to heading north this spring, Weeks remains mindful of the costs associated with the national event.

She will advocate for district support for registration fees and is looking to fundraise for the approximate $700 costs for airfare, lodging and food.

"This is something I feel is very important," said Weeks. "It allows us to enrich our students in a significant subject area."

CHS principal Steven Craddock, a history teacher at the school for 18 years, is also gratified by their success.

"I knew that Cleveland High School could excel at this completion," said Craddock. "We have outstanding students and we're always trying to find opportunities for their talents to shine."

Weeks also thanked Delta State University teachers Michelle Johansen and Dr. Jerry Dallas for their support in judging the CHS projects prior to the state competition.