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Kingman Middle School students making history - again

Seven Kingman Middle School students will be going to the state National History Day contest this year. This will be the second year at the state level for four of the students: Avery Moon, Olivia Diaz, Cameron Cavalliere and Faith Proferes. Pictured in the back row are: Delanie Cencelewski, Alisha Valdez, Coby Peterson and Moon. Proferes and Diaz are in the front row.

KINGMAN - History is repeating itself for four Kingman Middle School students Avery Moon, Olivia Diaz, Faith Proferes and Cameron Cavalliere will be making a return trip this April to the state National History Day competition in Phoenix, along with three other classmates.

Last year, Moon and Diaz's 3-D "Titanic: Safety vs. Luxury" project went all the way to the national competition in Washington, D.C.

This year, Moon and Diaz stayed a little closer to home and focused on the 1973 Doxol explosion in Kingman. Besides learning about what a BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) is and how it changed firefighting and transporting gases by train, the girls also learned about the impact of the explosion on the community.

A family member even lent the students the firefighter's badge their loved one was wearing when he died that day.

Coby Peterson and Alisha Valdez also kept it local with their history day project, focusing on Kingman's first fire station.

"It was located at the corner of 5th Street and Beale," Valdez said. "The first fire truck was named 'Frog.'"

Delaine Cencelewski decided to go solo and chose the railroad's impact on Kingman.

Proferes and her partner, Cavalliere, decided to follow their family trees and study Ellis Island.

"My mom told me that we may have had family members that went through Ellis Island," Proferes said. She didn't find any, but she did find a local resident whose family went through the island.

"He still had the original papers and their suitcase, a big trunk," Proferes said. The resident let the girls photograph the papers and loaned them the trunk for part of their exhibit. "We're going to put clothes and things in it that they might have carried with them."

The contest involves much more than paperboard and papers, according to their teacher, Ron Bahre.

"This is definitely not just sitting in a history classroom," he said.

The contest is open to students in sixth grade through high school. The students have their choice of five different ways to present their history project - as an exhibit, a documentary, a website, a paper or a performance. They can work as individuals or in groups.

"There are some strict rules," he said. "If students use technology, it can only make up three minutes of their presentation. Anything over three minutes and their project will be disqualified and they time them."

Documentaries can only be 10 minutes long, papers are limited to 2,500 words and exhibits are limited to 500 words, he said.

The students first compete at the school level, where their teachers pick the best projects, Bahre said. Those students go on to the regional competition, which was at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff this year and will be in Kingman next year.

At each stage of the contest, the students have to answer questions about their projects and use the feedback they get from the judges to improve their project for the next level of competition.

"We found it is better to have more primary sources than secondary sources. That was our problem with last year's project. We didn't have anyone local that we could interview," Moon said. "We interviewed 13 people this year and learned how emotional and sad (the explosion) was for the community."

"Going to the state and national competitions last year was fun but nerve-wracking," Moon said. "Especially waiting for the awards part."

"It can be intense, especially at the state and national levels," Bahre said. "Last year, there was a kid at state whose whole project consisted of the front bumper of a Model T. At nationals, one kid's project was a box of salt and book on his project."

The national competition includes students from around the globe, he said.

The fun part was staying in the dorm at the University of Maryland for a week and visiting all the tourist spots in Washington, D.C., during the national competition, Moon said. The students also got to trade state pins.

The students will make the trip to the state competition on April 13. The national competition is June 9 through June 13.

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