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October 10, 2019
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New York State Archives Announces 2019 Student Research Awards Winners

In celebration of American Archives Month, the New York State Archives and the Archives Partnership Trust today announced the winners of the 2019 Student Research Awards. This annual awards program is a statewide competition open to all New York State students in grades 4 – 12. The Awards recognize excellence in student research and encourages students to explore the wealth of historical records held in cultural institutions and records repositories across New York State. In addition, the Archives Partnership Trust also recognized Toni Stevens-Oliver, a Pittsford Central School District teacher, for her excellent use of historical records in the classroom.

“These students and teachers have done excellent work in using historical records to research and document our state’s history,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “I encourage them to continue to use the rich information contained in primary sources and historical records.”

“The Student Research Awards winners complete remarkable and inspiring work and this year’s winners are no exception,” said Interim State Education Commissioner Beth Berlin. “We’re proud to celebrate these students’ outstanding use of primary sources to hone their skills at research, critical thinking and analyzing information, and encourage all students and educators to explore New York’s rich documentary resources at archives, libraries and cultural institutions across the state.”

“It’s a great honor to recognize the students and teachers who incorporate historical records in their exemplary research,” said Regent Roger Tilles, Co-Chair of the Board of Regents Cultural Education Committee. “New York State has a rich history and these students and teachers deserve recognition for their work to bring history to life.”

“Congratulations to the students who have done an outstanding job creating impressive research projects using primary sources,” said Regent Judith Johnson, Co-Chair of the Board of Regents Cultural Education Committee. “It’s critical that our history is not only preserved for future generations but also shared and promoted. The more we have a better understanding of the past, the better we can plan for our future.”

“The State Archives celebrates educators and students who are analyzing and sharing information in historical records to tell our state’s history,” said State Archivist Thomas Ruller. “We encourage teachers and students throughout the state to learn more about the Archives Student Research Awards and submit entries for the 2020 competition.”

Awards are given in the following three divisions: Grades 4-5; Grades 6-8; and Grades 9-12. A complete list of this year’s winners follows:

Elementary School Category (Grades 4 – 5)

  • Celina Alicea, Ava Burgess, Cormac Denniton, Keira Donaher, Gavin Henning, Jonas Henley, Evelyn Frick, Lura Kersbergen, Megann Lada, and Savannah Langenfeld from Palmyra-Macedon Intermediate School in the Palmyra-Macedon Central School District

Under the direction of their teacher, Karin Thomas, the students created a website detailing the influence of the Phelps family on the community of Palmyra. Through this project, the students learned about everyday life at the Phelps General Store and how the different members of the Phelps family contributed to their community’s history.

Middle School Category (Grades 6 – 8)

  • Eva Goldfinger from Ramaz Middle School in New York City

    Under the direction of her teacher, Judy Sokolow, Eva wrote a research paper about the role of the Va’ad ha-Hatzalah in the rescue of Jews during World War II. The paper details the actions taken by the organization to provide relief and relocation to exiled Jews. She brought together many types of primary sources to document the conflict and cooperation surrounding the actions taken by the Va-ad ha-Hatzalah during the Holocaust.

High School Category (Grades 9 – 12)

For the first time, three winners are recipients of the high school category awards. Although unprecedented, the judges strongly felt each of the winning projects were exceptionally exemplary and equally deserving of recognition.

  • 1st Place: Ashley Vincenzo from The Wheatley School in East Williston Union Free School District

    Under the direction of her teacher, Jo Beth Roberts, Ashley researched how the coup staged by the United States and Great Britain to remove the Iranian Premier in 1953 led to poor relations between the U.S. and Iran. The website was easy to navigate and included several features that engaged the reader. Ashley made great use of a variety of primary sources and placed the events in the broader context of the Cold War.

  • 2nd Place: Aarya Ayarnial, Abhinav Goyal, Aditya Lodha, and Prameet Shuh from Herricks High School in Herricks Union Free School District

    Under the direction of their teacher, Melissa Jacobs, the students researched the history of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Z.O.B. (Jewish Fighting Organization) as an example of resistance against Hitler. Their documentary was moving, dramatic, and based on a variety of primary sources.

  • 3rd Place: Rahul Ajmera from The Wheatley School in East Williston Union Free School District

    Under the direction of his teacher, Jo Beth Roberts, Rahul researched the protest by Jewish women against a raise in kosher meat prices in 1902. The exhibit featured a variety of primary sources and focused on the embracing of American rights by an immigrant population.

Each award consists of a framed certificate and a cash prize. Students may submit a project on any topic and can work individually, in groups, or as a class. Project formats include research paper, PowerPoint presentation, exhibit, documentary, performance, website or proposal for historic marker. The Student Research Awards are supported by the Laura and Robert Chodos endowment, private contributions, and special grants raised by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.

In addition, the Archives honored Toni Stevens-Oliver, 4th grade teacher at Thornell Road Elementary School in the Pittsford Central School District, with the 2019 Bruce W. Dearstyne Archives Award for Excellence in the Educational Use of Historical Records. Toni’s knowledge and enthusiasm for learning and her ability to create lasting community collaborations has helped her students understand the importance of community and regional history, why historical records are important, where to find these records, and how to incorporate them into their school work. The Archives also recognizes Toni for her successful efforts to encourage students to locate and use historical records from their local community and to participate in the State Archives Student Research Award program.

The 2020 Archives Student Research Awards, the 30th year of the program, is now open for entries. Entries must be postmarked no later than July 1, 2020; award winners will be notified by mid-September 2020. Entries must be researched and developed during the July 2019 – June 2020 school year.

The New York State Archives Partnership Trust is a statewide non-profit whose mission is to keep over 350 years of New York’s rich documentary heritage within the New York State Archives accessible and alive though education, preservation, and outreach programs. The Trust also serves as host of the New York Council for History Education. The New York State Archives is the largest repository of state government records in the nation, holding over 250 million records of state and colonial governments dating back to the Dutch colonial period in 1630. The New York State Archives is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Archives is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on legal holidays. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-8955 or visiting the Archives’ website.