Seventh grader Alyssa Kiffer's documentary on desegregation and racial prejudice captures first place at state History Day competition
Posted on 05/03/2019
Benton MS student Alyssa KifferAlyssa Kiffer, a seventh grader at Benton Middle School, earned first place in the junior individual documentary division at the Virginia State History Day competition. She joins other first and second place category winners whose projects, based on this year’s History Day theme, “Triumph and Tragedy in History,” will advance to the National History Day contest. The contest is scheduled to be held at the University of Maryland, College Park, in June.

Kiffer’s documentary, “The Little Rock Nine and the Crisis at Central High: The Triumph of Desegregation and The Tragedy of Increased Racial Hate and Violence,” impressed the judges so much that they had no suggestions for improving her project. Her topic encompasses the history of desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the story of the nine students who integrated Central High School.

Kiffer was guided through the contest submission process by Benton history teacher, Anne M. Walker, with the option to submit either a research paper, exhibit, documentary, an original performance, or a website that is judged on its historical accuracy, interpretation, presentation, and use of primary research. The year-long program culminates in a series of contests held at the regional, state, and national levels and brings in middle and high school students from around the world to compete.

“I am truly impressed with the amount of effort Alyssa has put into this project,” said Walker. “She has gone above and beyond expectations, managing to interview one of the nine. Her analysis of the events around the Little Rock Nine meet both themes of "Triumph" and "Tragedy" and really impressed the state judges.

According to the National History Day website, each year nearly 3,000 students with their families and teachers gather for the week-long National History Day competition event. Participants come from all fifty states, Washington, D.C., Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia. After spending months on project research and preparation, and competing at local and affiliate contests, these students are eager to show their hard work at the National Contest.

Alyssa Kiffer’s dedication, initiative, and commitment to academic excellence are Positively PWCS!