Sam Adams history team headed to nationals

Published 3:18 pm Monday, May 16, 2016


Four Sam Adams sixth-grade students are heading to the University of Maryland and they could use your help.

Jadin Wolfe, Anna Leach, Kennedy Brooks and Keith Porter won a Michigan History Day state championship in Bay City April 30 and have qualified to compete in National History Day at the University of Maryland June 12-16.

Their 10-minute performance entitled “The Orphan Train” also won the James Campbell Award for best use of oral history.

“We began working on our project last August, when we met descendants of riders at an orphan train program given by Barb Cook at the Council On Aging,” Ruth Andrews said. “We arranged to interview Wayne Falda, Bobbi Labar and Bonnie Schmidttendorf. Their stories amazed and inspired us. It means a lot to have won the Campbell Award for Oral Histories because that award is really for them.”

The orphan train’s first destination was Dowagiac in 1854. In the next 75 years, a total of 250,000 children were brought out of New York City into 47 states.

Sam Adams students interviewed local descendants of orphan train riders and used those stories to create the performance.

The students also took a pair of trips to the Dowagiac Area Museum.

“Steve Arseneau was very helpful,” Andrews said. “After regionals, where we came in second, we requested and received copies of archived material from the New York Historical Society. Competing at this level pushed us into a higher gear. The kids had to learn to be assertive with the judges.”

Anyone wishing to contribute to the team’s travel expenses may donate to Cassopolis Public Schools with the memo “Michigan History Day.”

For more information about the team or to donate, call Andrews at (269) 519-4589.