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Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
June 28, 2011

Chris Cate

Secretary Browning Applauds Florida History Fair Team’s Success at National Contest

TALLAHASSEE – Secretary of State Kurt Browning is applauding the Florida students who competed at the National History Day (NHD) competition in College Park, Maryland. After months of intensive research and success at district and state level competitions, 59 students from 12 counties represented Florida at the recent national competition.

“I am proud of the students who represented Florida and pleased that our state again had national winners,” said Secretary Browning. “Their success is hard-earned, but well deserved.”

As part of the competition, middle and high school students prepared historical paper, documentary, performance, exhibit, and website entries relating to this year’s theme, “Debate and Diplomacy:  Successes, Failures, Consequences.” Florida’s representatives were among 2,720 students from 49 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Department of Defense Schools in Europe, and an international school in Shanghai, China, who participated in the largest national competition in NHD’s 31-year history.

Listed below are Florida’s national-level winners. Unlike other first-place medalists who took home a $1,000 prize, the Broward County students who captured the first-place Senior Group Documentary award received $5,000 because of a special sponsorship by The History Channel.

1st Place:  Senior Group Documentary
Nicole Mariutto and Matt Mariutto
“The Gay Rights Debate of 1977:  Successes, Failures, Consequences”
American Heritage School (Broward County); Teacher: Leslie Porges

Special Prize for Irish or Irish American History
Presented by the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians
Jessica Hamacher and Jaime Kay
“Starvation in Ireland:  An International Diplomatic Crisis—Junior Group Performance
Dunedin Highland Middle School (Pinellas County); Teacher: Teresa Bergstrom

4th Place:  Senior Individual Website
Robert Mines
“The Cuban Missile Crisis:  Diplomacy Averting Mutually Assured Destruction”
West Florida High School of Advanced Technology (Escambia County); Teacher: Tiffany Odom

6th Place:  Junior Group Documentary
Erin Van Gorkom and Robin J. Best
“A Controversial Universe:  Debates About the Expanding Universe Theory”
Fort Clarke Middle School (Alachua County); Teacher:  Jennifer Thomas

10th Place:  Senior Individual Exhibit
Nick Gupta
“Dire Straits:  The 1956 Suez Crisis”
Pensacola High School (Escambia County): Teacher: Michael Jones

12th Place:  Junior Group Performance
Riley Farrow, Brittyn Hamer, and Logan Saliga
“Debate in the White City:  Industrialism, Consumerism, Innovation, Failure, and Their Connections with the Columbian Exposition of 1893”
Tuskawilla Middle School (Seminole County); Teacher:  Rebekah Maggio

Outstanding State Award—Junior Division
Samantha Berner, Jordana Berner, and Gabriela Berner
“Man on the Moon”—Junior Group Exhibit
City of Coral Springs Charter School (Broward County); Teacher: LaSylvia McCorvey

Outstanding State Award—Senior Division
Madison Chapman
“Property or Person:  The Debate and Diplomacy of the Three-fifths Compromise”
Home school (Manatee County); Teacher: Deborah Chapman

Exhibit Display
Each of the 55 NHD affiliates was invited to display an exhibit entry at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History all day on June 15. Pensacola High School student Nick Gupta represented Florida with his Senior Individual Exhibit, “Dire Straits: The 1956 Suez Crisis.”

About the National History Day Program

National History Day is a year-long educational program that encourages students in grades 6 through 12 to enhance research, writing, communication and critical thinking skills through the process of historical discovery. The students who advanced to the NHD contest were winners at the Florida History Fair in May. This year, 42,550 Florida students participated statewide, and about 950 students representing 29 counties competed at the state level. The Florida History Fair is one of the statewide services sponsored by the Museum of Florida History, Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Department of State.  A list of state and national winners and Florida History Fair sponsors can be viewed at