Ralston Middle School students Carol Van Lanckerk, left, Olivia Van Lanckerk and Bethany Madden place in the top 10 percent with their project “The Glowing Girls: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Radium Women” at the National History Day national competition.

With hard work and dedication, Ralston students raised the bar at National History Day.

More than 3,000 students from around the world showcased their research projects that reflected this year’s theme of “Triumphant Tragedy in History” last month at the University of Maryland.

Ralston students in both the junior division and senior division were recognized for their projects.

RMS students Bethany Madden, Olivia Van Lanckerk and Carol Van Lanckerk made the top 10 percent with their project “The Glowing Girls: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Radium Women,”

Their project, which revealed the history of Radium Women, women who contracted radiation poisoning by working in factories during WWII, was also awarded Outstanding Affiliate (Nebraska) Entry Award.

National History Day advisors Lynn Behounek, a media specialist at RMS, and Mindy Podraza, a social studies teacher at RMS, said they could not be more proud.

“You know each state is giving the best of the best,” Behounek said. “To make it into that top 10 percent is an honor in itself.”

RHS student Tyler Richardson, advised by Shane Adams, a social studies teacher at RHS, took home the Outstanding Affiliate (Nebraska) Entry Award for the senior division for his individual website on the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989.

His project, titled “I Pledge to Use My Young Life to Defend Tiananmen: The Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989,” placed in the top 20 percent.

Podraza said she was not at all surprised at the outcome.

“We are just so happy for the kids,” Podraza said.

“They got to showcase their research and the amount of knowledge they have on their topic.”

Other students who made it to nationals were RMS students Ella Johnson, Andrew Creek, Cassidy Culjat, Shelby Stephens, Maya Dooley and Jaclyn Johnson.

Though they did not place, making it to nationals is reward enough.

“They still worked hard to get their projects done. Because you are present at nationals, you are already a winner,” Podraza said.

During their time in Maryland, Behounek said the students showed their support for each other.

“All of our students celebrate each other,” she said. “It shows how much they’ve worked together. It’s like a small family.”

Each Ralston student, along with their families, visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History the day after nationals in support of Dooley and Johnson, who had their project “Night Witches” on display, Behounek said.

From brainstorming project ideas to competing in nationals, Podraza and Behounek are pleased with their students and hope they gained a lot throughout their experience.

“It’s not just a project, it’s an experience and an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself as a student,” Podraza said.

Email: ashley.quintela@bellevueleader.com Phone: 402-537-4849

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