SPRING HILL — A group of history buffs from Springstead High School competed recently in a national contest that tested more than their knowledge of key moments and players.
While they came up short of their ultimate goal, the students and their teacher returned from the National History Day event in Maryland with accolades, experiences and pride.
Her students all had competed at the state level before, but this was the first time any had made it to the national level.
"This program teaches creativity, design, higher-level thinking skills, research, investigation, evaluation of sources, interviewing skills and so many other skills,'' said history teacher Suzanne Miranda, who has been involved in National History Day for 14 years.
"So many school districts embrace this program and cite higher scores because of the process of what National History Day competition takes the students through."
This year's theme was "Debate and Diplomacy."
Springstead hosted the district event in January, which saw more than 300 projects compete. Winners there went to the state level and two Springstead projects achieved second places — and a chance to go to national.
"From the state, there are only 10 slots in the entire state to take to national and we took two of them," Miranda said.
Juniors Cody Emmerman, Koby Craig and Kevin Oliveira, all 17, placed second with their website, "The Vietnam War — The Intervention of the United States."
Sophomore Carl Zee, 16, placed second with his documentary, "The Bonus Army."
Both projects competed in Washington on June 12-16 at the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. Neither local entry, however, won its category.
The competition is judged in five categories: historical papers, exhibits, website production, documentary and performance.
Two other Springstead entries placed at the state level but not high enough to go to the national competition.
Freshman Elizabeth Cannon placed sixth in the historical paper category, and sophomores Alex Franklin, Jonas Gonzales and Mikey Bennett placed fourth with their team exhibit on the Treaty of Versailles.
Miranda received the Patricia Behring Award for History Teacher of the Year for Secondary High Schools in the Florida.
"I was actually shocked to realize the State History Fair had chosen me to represent them at nationals as their Teacher of the Year," she said.
Miranda had to submit an application and a letter of recommendation from her principal, Susan Duval.
"She wrote me a glowing recommendation," Miranda said, "not just for being Teacher of the Year material, but for keeping the program alive."
Miranda credits her father for her interest in the subject.
"My father was a historian and he instilled a love of history in me," she said, adding that she tries to instill that same love in her students. "I've done a lot of different things to hook students throughout the year."
That includes live speakers, dressing in costumes and, of course, the history competition.
The students couldn't be happier how things turned out.
"We're really excited and a lot of our hard work has paid off on the website," Cody Emmerman said.
"It's kind of nice after three years that we're finally getting where we wanted to be," Koby Craig said.