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: