Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Local youth historians to compete at national competition

Jun 02, 2021 09:10AM ● By Julie Slama

Union Middle School eighth-graders Allie Murray, Sara Russell and Ellie Glover, who researched and created an exhibit that illustrated their findings about women’s suffrage, recently earned the state title in group exhibit in the state History Day Fair. (Screenshot)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Like many other school activities, COVID-19 impacted Utah History Day Fair as the Canyons School District, Salt Lake Regional and state competitions were all held virtually. However, when the livestreamed results were announced, the reactions weren’t virtual.

Throughout Canyons School District cheers went out as state champions were announced in four categories and special awards were named to several students. The state winners will compete in the National History Day Fair in June.

Amongst those are Union Middle School eighth-grade students Allie Murray, Sara Russell and Ellie Glover who researched and created a group exhibit that illustrated their findings about women’s suffrage.

The online exhibit included historical background of why women could not participate in politics and how they wanted to represent their values and opinions. It showed leaders in the movement and the protests, speeches and conventions they held to gain the right to vote. Tying in the History Day theme of “Communication and History: The Key to Understanding,” their conclusion illustrated how after the 19th amendment was ratified, more than 8 million women voted and has influence in determining the outcomes of issues and who holds office, including electing the first female U.S. vice president.

The group won their school competition, Canyons School District’s history day contest and the Salt Lake regionals to advance to the state history day contest. Competitions were held virtually to ensure the safety and health of student competitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We worked on it preparing for each level as we advanced,” Allie said. “The hardest part was after we fixed it, we had to edit out words to fit to the word count or parts that weren’t as focused on our topic.”

Ellie said that they hoped to make their project even stronger before nationals.

“We want to make our conclusion and thesis statement stronger and then, connect some of our ideas to the theme more,” she said. 

While the girls knew it took the women 72 years to gain the right to vote, their research gave them more insight to the hardships and movement behind the privilege. 

“I learned about it a little in seventh grade,” Sara said. “We wanted to focus on that they secured women the right to vote now and also that women have roles in the government and in politics.”

Ellie said that the 19th amendment wasn’t easy to pass.

“I learned that they had to go through a lot of hardships to even get the right to vote and be understood,” she said, adding that with Kamala Harris as vice president, she wanted to delve deeper into the subject. “I wanted to see what they had to do in order to lead up to this point.”

Sara said they were able to find some of the original speeches from women’s suffrage leaders like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for their virtual poster board.

With COVID-19, the group had to learn how to make a virtual board in Google Drawing and communicated over Zoom to work on the project together when they weren’t at school. 

“My favorite part is getting to work with my friends,” Allie said. “We went off a list we got from our teacher and decided to write certain parts first and divide up the sections. Before our research, we didn’t realize how many were opposed to the women’s suffrage movement, even some women, and included that as our counter argument.”

The Union trio weren’t the only state champions who will advance to nationals from Canyons School District. Their classmate, Isabella Toledo, will compete in the individual performance category with “Quipus,” a way Incas communicate in South America.  

From Draper Park Middle, William Harrison will present his paper, “The Power of Television: How Televised Presidential Appearances Have Shaped American History” in the junior division.

In the senior division, Jordan High’s Elsie Grow will present her paper, “For the Advancement and Betterment of Humanity: The Fight for Women’s Suffrage at Utah’s Constitutional Convention.” Grow was honored with special awards at state, including the American West Prize and the Glen & Caroline Miner Prize in Utah History.

Other state prize winners include Midvale Middle School’s Aeris Lau, Cody Su, Jacob Nelson, Kimiya Mavaddat and Max McFarland for their group documentary, “The Pony Express: The Most ‘Note’able Men” and Union Middle School’s Hannah Cecil and Maile Gonzalez for their group documentary, “Pony Express.”