‘Whale’ of a day for Pleasant Valley duo

Students rate high in national history meet

By Howard Buck, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Here’s a winning tale of two middle-schoolers who know a lot about history.

And who just made some history themselves.

Jessi Shelton and Mercedes McLeod, eighth-graders at Pleasant Valley Middle School, snagged fourth place among 91 middle-school teams competing in the “group documentary” category at National History Day, hosted outside Washington, D.C., last week.

You might even say the duo “harpooned” their high finish.

The Battle Ground district students studied the U.S. government’s 1855 whaling-rights treaty with the Makah tribe of Washington state’s northwestern coast.

They presented their own 10-minute video, “The Treaty of Neah Bay 1855: Created by Diplomacy, Destroyed by Debate,” supplied written documentation and fielded questions from a panel of three judges.

The girls closely followed other contestants’ follow-up sessions and drilled long and hard to anticipate questions and shape effective responses.

It was a winning formula, same as that used May 7 when the pair took first place at the Washington (state) History Day to qualify for the national meet.

What’s more, judges at the host University of Maryland at College Park ranked Jessi and Mercedes’ project the best of all 36 projects presented by Evergreen State teams on June 16. That included all middle- and high school individual or group entries.

It was a rewarding experience for Pleasant Valley history teacher Rene Soohoo, who accompanied the pair.

More of her students also took state honors in May but did not qualify for the national meet.