One of my students….

brought this home from the state history fair. It was not a bad day!

The student travels to Annapolis next month for National History Day. It was a pretty big deal in our small little town!

Here is the article from the local paper, The DeKalb Chronicle

Hiawatha senior qualifies for national history contest
Created: Friday, May 18, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

Hiawatha High School senior Jordan Williams was recognized as a National Award Winner at the Illinois History Fair for her performance of Mary Todd Lincoln. She advanced to the national competition at the University of Maryland in June. (Photo provided)

KIRKLAND – Bringing Mary Todd Lincoln to life earned a Hiawatha High School student a chance to participate in a national history competition next month.

Senior Jordan Williams qualified May 3 for the competition after winning the National History Day medal at the Illinois History Expo in Springfield. She’s the first Kirkland student to qualify for the national competition.

“I was really surprised but really excited,” she said. “… I’m really proud to represent Hiawatha and Illinois.”

Williams wrote a script and acted it out to prove Lincoln wasn’t insane, but that she suffered from severe depression after outliving all but one of her four sons.

Students submit projects in five categories: an exhibit, performance, website, documentary or research paper. Williams decided on a performance because she’s involved in school plays. During her 10-minute performance, she dressed as Lincoln, wearing an 1800s mourning outfit. It took Williams about three months to complete research before competing at a regional competition at Northern Illinois University in February.

Williams said Lincoln’s son tried her for insanity, and courts deemed her legally insane. After spending six months in a Batavia asylum, a female lawyer proved Lincoln was sane. Williams includes excerpts from Lincoln’s diary, and judges appreciated that Williams portrayed the emotional side of the trial.

Students who win at the state level qualify to compete at the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. The competition runs from June 10 to 14 and draws about 2,400 students, parents and teachers. Williams will compete against more than 100 students in the performance category.

Todd Johnson, a junior high social studies teacher at Hiawatha, said all 35 students in the Hiawatha History Club participated, 15 of whom earned superior or blue ribbons at the state level.

Williams is a history lover who has submitted projects to the competition since she was in seventh grade. She has plans to attend Loyola University in Chicago to study pediatric cardiology. Johnson said he believes her experience with the competition will give her an edge as a college student.

“We’re just excited for her,” Johnson said. “Jordan has worked very hard on this. … The skills she learned – reading, writing, making arguments and multiple points of view – will help her become a doctor.”



  1. Congratulations. That’s very impressive. Too bad everything in the world now seems to be plastered with advertising and web addresses.

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