Whidbey Examiner


Making History: Barnes places first at national competition

Whidbey Examiner Staff
June 21, 2013 · 2:47 PM

Heni Barnes dons a crown and holds a bouquet of chard and onions while parading down a dirt road Monday with advisor Wilbur Purdue to celebrate her victory at the National History Day competition held last week in Maryland. / Nathan Whalen photo

An impromptu parade took place early Monday night through local farms to celebrate a Coupeville High School student’s achievement at the National History Day competition.

Heni Barnes, who completed her junior year at Coupeville High School, earned first place in the Senior Individual Documentary division during the event held June 9-13 in College Park, Md.

To honor her accomplishment, Barnes donned a crown and carried a bouquet of chard and onions during a brief parade that took place on a dirt road between Ebey Road Farm and Prairie Bottom Farm located south of Coupeville. The impromptu parade through the pasture featured several tractors and a riding lawnmower. A handful of Barnes’ friends, family and teachers stopped by to congratulate her. Following the parade, they viewed her documentary during a reception at Prairie Bottom Farm.

Barnes earned the honor for her documentary titled “Striking a Turning Point: The 1917 Pacific Northwest Lumber Strike.” Her 10-minute documentary focused on the year-long event that took place mostly in lumber camps scattered throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

She was part of a competition between 128 high school students from 50 states, U.S. protectorates and overseas military bases.

“I would say it was fierce,” said Wilbur Purdue, History Day advisor and owner of Prairie Bottom Farm.

The trip to Maryland also included an excursion to the Library of Congress, which allowed Barnes to get a couple more details for her documentary.

She presented during the preliminary round Tuesday, and again on Wednesday during the finals. During the awards ceremony Thursday, organizers announced the second and third place winners before announcing the winners. Barnes had to wait several hours before hearing she won.

“I had a heart attack,” she said. “I was pretty excited.”

With her win comes the prestige of winning a national competition. She also earned a $5,000 prize from the History Channel and her documentary will eventually be aired on the cable station. Barnes said she didn’t know yet when her documentary would air.

Coupeville High School traditionally has students earn awards in the National History Day competition. In recent years, Purdue said Laura Harkins earned an award for a website and Maria Kidder earned an award for a performance in the national competition.

Purdue also pointed out that Washington state had a good year at the competition. In addition to Barnes’s win, a group from STEM High School in Redmond earned first-place honors in the senior group documentary category for their work about Nikola Tesla.

The History Day competition is just part of a busy summer for Barnes. She is participating in an archeology module at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, then she has a two-week summer residency at the University of Washington that is organized by the Washington Aerospace Scholars.


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