Despite a hectic year of coping with COVID-19 health restrictions, nearly a dozen South Haven History Club received top honors at the Michigan History Day competition with five qualifying for a trip to the national competition in June.

Once again this year, restrictions to prevent the spread of the pandemic, forced the state competition, April 24, to be conducted virtually. But South Haven’s History Club members came up with award-winning entries, according to History Club advisor Julie Sheppard.

“The perseverance and dedication to excellence and learning; especially during these times has been amazing,” she said.

Students who compete in the Michigan History Day competition are divided into several classifications based on what grade they are in. Youth Division entrants are from North Shore Elementary, Junior Division entrants are from Baseline Middle School, while Senior Division entrants are from South Haven High School. Junior and Senior Division entrants advance to the national competition.

The following South Haven History club members earned awards at the state competition:

Youth Division

Youth Group Documentary: North Shore students Brayden Williams and Carson Meachum, “Winged Soldiers, second place; North Shore students Jocelyn Dubbink and Kiersten Chalupa, “The Story of Ella Baker: Activist and Human Rights Defender,” third place.

Youth Individual Performance: North Shore student Victoria Moody, “The Life of Susan B. Anthony,” second place.

Youth Paper: North Shore student Aaron Crider, “Sightless Reading: A Brief History of Louis Braille and the Braille Reading System,” first place.

Junior Division

Junior Individual Performance: Baseline students Ruby Peterson, “The Riveters: Communicating Equality and Perseverance Through Rosie the Riveter,” national alternate.

Senior Division

Senior Group Exhibit: South Haven High School students Myles Daugherty and Nic Sheppard, “Lincoln on the Front Line,’ national finalists.

Senior Group Documentary: South Haven High School students Avery Daugherty and Jessee Ford “Track to Trenches- Communicating at the Speed of an Olympic Medalist,” national finalists

Not only did South Haven club members earn top honors in the state competition, several earned special recognition.

“Of the eight special awards presented, South Haven claimed half of them,” she said.

The students from South Haven who received special awards follow:

Best Entry in Use of Primary Sources: Jocie Dubbink and Kiersten Chalupa, Youth Division.

Best Entry in Use of Family History: Ruby Peterson- Junior Division; Jessee Ford and Avery Daugherty, Senior Division.

Best Entry in Use of Newspapers: Nic Sheppard and Myles Daugherty, Senior Division.

Best Entry in African-American History: Jocie Dubbink and Kiersten Chalupa, Youth Division; Tabi Newberry, Senior Division.

A total of 250 students took part in the state competition.

Switching to a virtual contest for the Michigan History Day State Finals presented some unique challenges for both students and judges, according to Michigan History Day State Coordinator Amy Bradfield.

“Students in the exhibit category included pictures of their exhibits when they uploaded their materials to the registration system. Performance students recorded their performances at school or at home, submitting the video along with their written materials,” Bradfield explained. “The judges missed the opportunity to interview and discuss projects with students but were still impressed with the quality of work.

“Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, students rose to the occasion and created some fascinating projects,” she went on to say. “The students did a great job connecting their topics to this year’s theme, ‘Communication in History: The Key to Understanding’. “We are very appreciative of the teachers who continued the program this year and supported their students as they worked.”