MPA History Fair

Morgan Park Academy (MPA) eighth-graders Annie Thompson (front row, from left), Leona Bergin, Trinity Bazile, Samara Harris, Matthew Jenkins (second row, form left), Kelsey Frazier, Braelyn Hall, Tess Concannon, Charlie Zigman (back row, from left), Michael Amberg, and Erick Smith were participants in the Chicago Metro History Fair regional competition, qualifying to compete at the state level.

The Morgan Park Academy (MPA) annual eighth-grade history fair project produced not only a host of outstanding exhibits, but also four qualifiers for the state finals in Springfield.

Michael Amberg, Leona Bergin, Kelsey Frazier and Braelyn Hall represented MPA at the state level after being recognized by judges at the Chicago Metro History Fair regional competition.

The quartet, along with classmate Trinity Bazile, advanced to regionals after being selected as best in class by MPA faculty and guest judges from the community.

MPA eighth-graders participate each year in the popular and challenging competition, researching and presenting a long-form research project. Over three months of work during the winter, students researched primary sources, including visiting the archives of the Chicago History Museum, and created museum-like exhibits, summary statements and annotated bibliographies.

Amberg’s exhibit focused on the role that the Lemont Massacre of 1885 played in the growth of the U.S. labor movement.

Bergin filmed a documentary about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was famously featured in the film “A League of Their Own.”

Frazier studied the impact that Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe has made on increasing the number of women of color in comedy.

Hall researched groundbreaking African-American executives in Chicago advertising agencies, including Leo Burnett.

Bazile’s exhibit focused on the role of the Pullman Porters in the Civil Rights Movement.

Sasha Bryant, Tess Concannon, Samara Harris, Matthew Jenkins, Erick Smith, Annie Thompson and Charlie Zigman also earned recognition from MPA judges for their exhibits on Chicago history through the lenses of blues music, redlining, pioneering black teachers and police officers, the 1970 Chicago Gay Liberation March, the Chicago Public Schools boycott of 1963, and the engineering project to reverse the Chicago River.

The Chicago Metro History Fair is a project-based inquiry program that challenges students to become historians by actually researching history.

Guided by their teachers, local students in grades six-12 choose their own topics connected to Chicago or Illinois history and then conduct research, analyze sources, make an argument and finally produce a project to show their work.

Students make websites, performances, documentaries, papers, and exhibitions that are evaluated by community volunteers at annual competitions in the Chicago metro area. This rigorous and rewarding program prepares youth for high school and college expectations as well as civic engagement.

Illinois History Day is a statewide program for students in grades six to 12 who are interested in building research skills while learning about their state’s history. Students can create a research paper, exhibit, website, documentary, or performance about Illinois’ long and varied history. Students present their research at regional contests across the state. Those who receive a superior ribbon at their regional moved on to the state competition.

At the history fair state finals, Hall’s exhibit was one of nine individual projects in the junior division selected by Illinois judges to compete in the National History Day contest in June.

Amberg and Frazier also received recognition from judges for “superior” exhibits.