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IPS student competes in National History Day

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As Indiana gears up for the Bicentennial celebration, Indianapolis Public Schools reached a milestone.

For the first time, IPS had enough students participate in National History Day to form a regional competition.

Kierstyn Roberts is a junior at Arsenal Tech. She’s also one of the first IPS students to move on to state from a district NHDI contest.

“I was very shocked. I was very, very shocked,” said Roberts.

Last year was the first year a few IPS students entered the contest individually. This year, IPS stepped it up to a whole new level.

“We had multiple schools coming together that met in the Arsenal Tech Media Center,” said Matt Durrett NSDI coordinator.

In each district, the top two from each junior and senior class are selected to present at state and then at nationals. Students can act or exhibit a moment in history special to them.

Roberts chose to act it out.

“I was really nervous before. The judge was really nice so it made it a lot easier. But, that was definitely one of the things facing my fears because I don’t act. I don’t do stuff to put myself out there,” said Roberts.

It was part of the reason she chose to highlight Selena and Ritchie Valens

“Whether he had to face his fears or not he was going to do whatever it takes, said Roberts. “I would say, face your fears and just be strong about it.”

Roberts says a lot of people asked her why she chose Selena and Valens, when there are people in her cultural history like Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.

“You hear every day about those types of things but what about Richie Valence, what about Selena? What about all of the other people who have fought for their culture and nobody stood up for them even if they’re of a different race,” Roberts said.

Roberts wanted to learn about the history of something else she loves -music. Durrett says that’s exactly what the contest is for.

“We’re really focused on the skills that students develop. And I think what Kierstyn just presented, I think that’s a perfect example of how this works, Durrett said.

Roberts learned research, interviewing skills and to never let fear stand in your way of opportunity.

By having a district contest, it ensures more IPS students will have a shot at the state level.

The contest was held on Saturday. Keirstyn didn’t advance, but she is proud of her efforts and looks to help students in next year’s contest.

Nationals are June 12-16, at the University of Maryland, College Park.