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Texas History Day

Student Oral History Award

TOHA recognizes outstanding use of oral history in junior and senior individual documentaries entered in the state's annual history fair contest, held the first weekend in May, in Austin. Texas History Day is sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association, which allows associations like TOHA to present special awards to entries that reflect the particular interests of the organization.

We appreciate the gifts of time and expertise given by our Texas History Day special award judges. To win the TOHA award, students must interview at least three people and demonstrate use of the interview materials in their documentaries. The award consists of a certificate. First and second-place winners also receive a TOHA medal.

Year after year, the fact that the use of oral history research contributes to the historical quality of documentaries is proven by the number of students who earn the TOHA special award and also advance to the National History Day contest in June by winning first or second place in the regular judging.

On May 3, 2014, in Austin, TOHA recognized the successful use of oral history research by five students in the creation of historical documentaries highlighting the annual theme, Rights and Responsibilities in History. Serving as judges for the TOHA award were Dr. Lynn Burlbaw, Dr. Heather Caldwell, Dr. Peter J. Myers, and Mr. Steven Sielaff.

In the junior division, first place was earned by Korbin San Miguel, of St. Matthew Catholic School, in San Antonio, for the documentary entitled "The Impact of the Great Depression towards Rights and Responsibilities of Migrant Workers." In the process paper accompanying the documentary, Korbin stated that interviews with two former migrant workers from Texas provided "great knowledge of their daily responsibilities and the mistreatment and abuse they endured," while interviews with a lawyer and legal expert informed the researcher about migrant law and migrant rights. This project placed second in the regular judging, so the entry will advance to the national contest.

Second place in the junior division was earned by Tanner Haney, from Atlas Academy, in Waco, for "Roberto Clemente: More Than a Baseball Player." Among his primary sources for the research on Roberto Clemente Sr., whom Tanner says was both "the first Latin superstar baseball player" and a "great humanitarian," were two telephone interviews with Roberto Clemente Jr., in which the son described his father's legacy both on and off the baseball field.

In the senior division, Zakary Piwetz, from Rockport-Fulton High School, in Rockport, earned first place for "Defending Democracy: Government Responsibility vs. Individual Rights." To study both sides of the story of the impact of anti-draft movements during the Vietnam era, Zakary conducted seven interviews. He talked with Vietnam veterans, both officers and enlisted men, as well as anti-draft protestors. Two veterans he interviewed were his own grandfathers. This documentary also placed second in the regular judging and will advance to the national contest.

In addition to these awards, two students received honorable mention certificates for their exemplary oral history research.
• Progga Hassan, from Wiggs Middle School in El Paso, for the junior documentary "The Dowry Revolution: A Social Responsibility that Became a Social Right."
• Jovonne Ledet, from Ross S. Sterling High School in Baytown, for the senior documentary, "From Cradle to Conflict: Rights to a Childhood." This documentary placed third in the regular state history day judging.

Congratulations to the well-deserving students who qualify for and win the TOHA Texas History Day Award!