Ever heard of National History Day? It's a 30-year-old academic program for elementary and secondary school students. Participants select a historical topic related to a theme, conduct extensive research and analysis to determine its significance in history and submit their work in an original paper, exhibit, performance, documentary or website.

"It's like a science fair project, only history," said Dan Dunn, the Blackhawk Museum's director. These projects are entered into competitions each spring at local and state levels in which they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. State winners are eligible to compete at the national level. Kenneth Behring, of Blackhawk, and his wife, Pat, are the sponsors of the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest held annually in June in College Park, Md.

"We've been involved in this for a few years, and we're very excited about it," Pat said.

In a video on the National History Day website (http://www.nhd.org/KennethBehring.htm), Ken is called "one of our very own national heroes" and "one of the world's biggest gift-givers."

"I feel that National History Day is something that can give young people a chance to look back and see what has been good and what's bad about our country, and if young people study this it's going to help them keep our country as one of the greatest countries in the world," Ken says in the video.

Brenda Stutzman, a fifth-grade teacher at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in San Ramon, said each student in her class prepared a project as part of their social studies unit.


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"I like National History Day because it addresses firsthand primary sources, research material that is high-level," she said. "It appeared overwhelming to the kids at first, but they learned research skills applicable in any area and learned to budget their time -- a challenge for 10-year-olds."

The theme was "Revolution, Reaction, Reform," Stutzman said. "The students had to support their thesis and document it with primary and secondary sources."

Students' projects were displayed at the Blackhawk Museum on May 5 and 6 after the California championship in Riverside on April 28 and 29.

"It was very cool. You could light up Riverside with the energy that was out there," said Dunn. Two of Stutzman's students qualified for the state championship.

This year's national championship takes place Sunday through Thursday. Contest winners receive monetary awards and medals in each category. Gold medalists receive $1,000; silver medalists receive $500; and bronze medalists receive $250.

POLICE, FIRE TRIBUTE: The third annual Fallen Heroes Celebrity Golf and Tennis Tournament tees off on Monday at Diablo Country Club. Following the day's sporting events, entertainment at the dinner includes David Paich of Toto and the Stevie Keys All-Stars, with Johnny Gunn and members of Tower of Power, Jefferson Starship and the Gregg Allman Band.

The event is a tribute to all of the police officers and firefighters statewide who died in the line of duty during 2011, said Thomas Gallinatti, chairman and CEO of the nonprofit Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes Corporation, in an email. "This is a fundraiser for our newly created Scholarship Fund for the children of our Fallen Heroes, statewide," he wrote. "Please support the families of those that paid the ultimate price."

For details, visit http://thefallenheroes.org/portal/web/guest/golf-tournament or call 925-831-2011.

Contact Georgia Lambert at arounddanville@yahoo.com.

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