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3/12/2013 11:28:00 AM
Williams High school history students excel at National History Day competition
Miranda Mann and Cody Watson move on to state competition with projects on Thomas Jefferson's library and plane crash over Canyon
From left: Miranda Mann, Cody Watson and Jeff Ellico stand in front of Mannís exhibit exploring Thomas Jeffersonís library. Submitted photo
From left: Miranda Mann, Cody Watson and Jeff Ellico stand in front of Mannís exhibit exploring Thomas Jeffersonís library. Submitted photo

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

Three Williams students created projects showing how events in history shaped the present. After presenting them at the regional National History Day competition, two of them will advance to the state level.

Williams High School students Miranda Mann, Cody Watson and Jeff Ellico competed against students from Chino Valley and Coconino high schools Feb. 23 in the regional National History Day competition at Northern Arizona University (NAU).

For the contest, students chose topics, researched them and presented them as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website. The theme of this year's competition was Turning Points in History.

Watson and Mann will move on to the state competition April 13 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.

Mann, a junior, created an exhibit board about Thomas Jefferson's library and the Library of Congress.

"She looked at how if it weren't for his collection of books, basically he set the precedent for why we have the largest library in the world today and we have copyrights and everything comes out of there because of him," history teacher Heather Walker said.

Mann's project placed first in the exhibit board category. After spending about 50 hours on the project, Mann said she learned more about writing a thesis, conducting research and writing a research paper.

"It's just a really cool experience that has really helped me in learning how to do a lot of things," Mann told the Williams Unified School District governing board at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Mann did part of her research in the archives of Cline Library at NAU.

"I hadn't been able to do anything like this before, so it's really great to learn and going into college to be able to already be familiar with the college library and how to do research and research papers is very key," she said.

Watson, also a junior, created a website about the 1956 plane crash over the Grand Canyon. He argued that the crash, which involved Trans World Airlines and United Airlines planes, was a turning point in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

"Before the crash, there was no actual regulations against aviation and safety and all that. You were told to do one thing but you didn't have to follow it, you were allowed to do whatever you wanted. But nowadays you have to do what they say," Watson said.

Watson used the FAA website and Cline Library special collections to conduct his research.

"He got to dig through the box of stuff and actually touch old artifacts and pictures," Walker said.

Watson's website can be seen at

"It was a long process, a lot of research," Watson said.

This is the second year Walker's students have competed in the National History Day competition. Last year participation was mandatory and this year it was optional. Last year one of Walker's students competed at the national level.

"I'm hoping to take somebody else to nationals like we did last year," Walker said.

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