Timmons Wins at National History Day State Contest
Shawnee Middle School student Clara Timmons was in sixth grade the first time she decided to enter the Oklahoma National History Day contest. Her goal that year was to make it past the regional contest to the state level. Timmons achieved that goal and earned a spot at the state contest, but she didn't win any awards.
This year, as a seventh grader, Timmons set a new goal: make it to the National History Day contest in Washington, D.C., by winning at the state level.
On May 1, Clara Timmons achieved her goal.
Timmons was named the first-place winner in the junior division individual performance category at the Oklahoma National History Day contest. Because she finished first in her division, she earned the chance to compete at the national level June 9-13 at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is the first SMS student to earn a place in the national contest.
To compete in the National History Day competition, students like Timmons begin preparing many months in advance. NHD participants choose a research topic related to the contest's theme, conduct extensive research of that topic using a number of primary and secondary sources, and create a project in one of several categories, such as website, research paper, documentary, exhibit or performance. Students also choose whether to complete the project individually or with a group.
Timmons's project category was an individual performance about the life of Theodore Roosevelt. During her research on Roosevelt's life, Timmons discovered information about one of his granddaughters and chose to portray this granddaughter as if she were writing in a diary about her grandfather's life.
"I set my script in 1924, the year that Theodore's granddaughter would have been 13, the same age I am now," Timmons said.
Not only did Timmons have to conduct research about the former president, she had to create and memorize a script, find a historically accurate costume and props, and prepare a performance that she could conduct in a specific amount of time for the judges. Following her performance, she had to answer the judges' questions about her research. She also had to prepare an annotated bibliography of her information sources and a paper explaining her process.
What makes her achievement even more impressive is that Timmons was not fulfilling any school requirements by completing this project, said SMS social studies teacher Rachelle Watson.
"Clara came to me at the beginning of the school year to tell me she wanted to compete in National History Day, again," Watson said. "Other than pointing her to a few research sources and answering questions that she had, I did nothing to help Clara. Our drama teacher Kendra Butler volunteered to give her advice on her script and her performance whenever she needed it, but in every other respect, Clara created this entire project all on her own. She created the project simply because she wanted to learn and compete."
The Washington, D.C., contest is not the only traveling Timmons will have this summer. She is also one of three SMS students chosen to visit Shawnee's sister city Nikaho, Japan, in August. Timmons said she was already fundraising to help pay for her trip to Japan, and now she is adding her Washington, D.C., trip to her fundraising efforts.