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Jefferson 12th-graders are making new history
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th-graders have proven that they are among the best of the best.

Josh Whitfield, Sarah Beggs and Clara Logue, members of the school’s National History Day Competition Team, have advanced to the final round of the competition with their documentary "Upton Sinclair: The Man Who Showed America to Herself."

To reach the final level of competition at the University of Maryland, the students had to win top honors at regional and state competitions. The national competition began Sunday and will conclude with today’s awards ceremony, which will be broadcast live on the History Channel’s Web site beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Out of 82 other senior group documentaries, the Jefferson team’s project was picked as one of 14 for a final round of judging.

"There were a total of 2,500 students here from all corners of the U.S. The fact that these young people prevailed to this level of the competition is pretty good," said Bill Noack, media relations representative for the National History Day competition. "We have 300 judges. They’re historians, history professors and people from museums around Washington, including the Smithsonian, so we have a very professional group of judges. Everyone who sees the students’ projects is amazed at the level of sophistication."

In addition to documentaries, the competition includes written papers, live performances and exhibits. Each student project is judged on three criteria: Historical quality, presentation clarity and how well the project adheres to its theme.

"National History Day is a great method for teaching," said Noack. "We hope to see more and more schools getting involved. It’s a great hands-on way for students to learn."

Although this is the 30th year of the history competition, it is only the second year that Jefferson High School has had a team.

"For Sarah to advance this far on her first time is so amazing and exciting. Her mother, Beth, and I are so proud of how great Sarah and her friends, Clara Logue and Josh Whitfield, have done," said Tom Beggs, father of team member Sarah Beggs.

"The kids worked together so well and for so many hours on this documentary. They each brought special strengths to their group documentary and I think this is the reason they have kept advancing."

The students were escorted to Maryland by the team’s adviser, Charles Elfer.

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