I, Too, Am America Contest

I, Too, Am America: Untold Stories Student Narratives Contest
National Parks of Kansas 2009

An outgrowth of the Ken Burns film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, all five national parks in Kansas sponsored the I, Too, Am America student contest. Both the contest and series are supported with grants from the National Park Foundation and Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

The contest was open to all seventh and eighth grade students in Kansas. From over 300 entries, a final group of five winners was selected from schools around the state representing student projects in documentary film making, poetry, personal narratives, and essays. Each winner received a special tour of one of the five Kansas National Parks. KTWU, a partnering PBS station in Topeka, accompanied each student on his or her park visit to document the experience and produced Sunflower Journeys Presents: The National Parks of Kansas which will air September 17, 2009 at 7:00 pm and again on September 28, 2009 at 9:30 pm on KTWU Channel 11. The National Parks: America's Best Idea premieres September 27, 2009 at 7:00 pm.

In partnership with KTWU and the Kansas State Department of Education, digital video cameras will be donated to each winner’s school for the students use in telling their story on Kansas PBS stations, and other future school projects.

The I, Too, Am America contest was designed to provide middle school students an opportunity to research and retell untold stories of the diverse peoples of Kansas. Entries were submitted in several formats ranging from essays and short stories to drawings and PowerPoint presentations. The students were provided five themes interpreted by the Kansas National Park units that they could connect with their own family, community, and cultural histories. These themes include: “Living between two worlds,” “Building communities,” “Overcoming hardship,” “Migration stories,” and “Seeking fairness and justice.” Many student entries told some compelling stories representing each of the five themes making the judging process a difficult one. After hours of deliberation, the final narratives selected came from the following students:

 
Joe Cheng pictured with Nicodemus Superintendent Mark Weaver and his Roosevelt Middle School Technology leadership teacher, Artonza Martin.
Joe Cheng, a spring, 2009 graduate of Roosevelt Middle School in Coffeyville and the winner of a trip to Nicodemus National Historic Site, is shown above at the right as he toured the Graham County community on Thursday, June 18. He is shown with NPS Superintendent Mark Weaver, left, and his Roosevelt MS Technology Leadership teacher, Mrs. Artonza Martin of Coffeyville.

The Hill City Times

Joe Cheng - 8th grader at Roosevelt Middle School in Coffeyville, Kansas

Winning Entry (PDF, 277KB)

 
Contest winner Anne DeArmond holding certificate with Fort Larned National Historic Site Superintendent Kevin McMurry.
Contest winner Anne DeArmond holding certificate with Fort Larned National Historic Site Superintendent Kevin McMurry.

National Park Service

Anne DeArmond - 7th grader at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park, Kansas

Winning Entry (PDF, 116KB)

 
Tim Fields dressed in historic military uniform demonstrates to Ryan Kelly, lying down on a bed, how doctors treated soldiers during the Civil War.
Tim Fields tells visitors how doctors treated soldiers during the Civil War as part of a tour Ryan Kelly and his family took at the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

Herald-Trubune/Scott Nuzum

Ryan Kelly - 8th grader at Seaman Middle School in Topeka, Kansas

Winning Entry (PDF, 273KB)

 
Contest winner Becky Loepky talks with Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Superintendent Dennis Vasquez as Scott Williams from Sunflower Journeys videotapes.
Contest winner Becky Loepky talks with Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Superintendent Dennis Vasquez as Scott Williams with Sunflower Journeys videotapes.

National Park Service/Aaron Firth

Becky Loepky - 8th grader at Satanta Junior High School in Satanta, Kansas

Winning Entry (PDF, 205KB)

 
Contest winner David Spivak is congratulated by Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Superintendent Wendy Lauritzen during class at Mission Valley Middle School.
Contest winner David Spivak is congratulated by Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Superintendent Wendy Lauritzen during class at Mission Valley Middle School.

National Park Service/Aaron Firth

David Spivak - 7th grader at Mission Valley Middle School in Prairie Village, Kansas

Winning Entry (Flash video, 20MB)

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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