Joy Wood and Dyanna Holloway won a trip to the national competition for National History Day, but they need the community’s help to fund the trip.

SCOUTING AROUND: Students need help for trip to nationals

    Several Cherokee County students have earned trips to state academic competitions this year, but Dyanna Holloway and Joy Wood accomplished something they never imagined. The sixth-grade students from Andrews Middle School are going to nationals for the National History Day contest.
    They were two of 19 sixth-graders out of 300 middle school students at the state competition April 29 in Raleigh. They figured it was a long shot to win. After all, they earned their trip to the state competition by winning second place during the regional competition at Western Carolina University.
    “I lost all hope after they called second place,” Holloway said.
    But then the awards ceremony host announced Andrews Middle and the girls as first-place winners in their category.
    “You can hear the girls gasped,” their teacher, Sarah Bennett, said of the video she posted of the state’s awards ceremony.
    “I cried,” Wood said. “I was very, very shocked.”
    The national contest is June 11-15 at the University of Maryland. While it is a great honor to represent the state and school, it also is a very expensive one with short notice. To help with expenses, Bennett has started a GoFundMe fundraiser.
    “The county has been very supportive,” Bennett said.
    This is the first year Bennett participated in this competition, and she didn’t know she was going to offer it to her students when the school district was preparing the budget, so it is an unplanned expense.
    “It is so unexpected,” Bennett said.
    Just the hotel rooms – which need to be booked soon, since rooms are filling quickly – will cost about $3,200 for the two students, parents and the teacher. There also are registration fees for the contest and travel expenses.
    Bennett has a goal of raising $5,000 through the online fundraiser. The girls said it would make them happy to see the community back their trip.
    “It’s always good to have support, and know there’s more than just your parents and teachers behind you,” Holloway said.
    For the contest, students had to create a project for the theme, “Taking a Stand in History.” For her first year doing the contest, Bennett suggested it to about 10 of her students. (She plans to offer it to all her students next year.) Students may create projects in one of five categories – documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website.
    Holloway and Wood decided to create a website about Sojourner Truth. They first learned about the women’s rights activist in one of Bennett’s classes earlier in the year when she was teaching about persuasive speeches. Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” was one of the speeches covered in class.
    “We really admired her courage and strength,” Holloway said.
    Wood said they considered doing an exhibit or performance, but decided to create a website because there are no materials to purchase. “In a way, a website is all the categories combined,” Holloway said.
    Bennett and the girls had never created a website before, but Wood said she had used websites for research, and knew what designs she liked. The girls researched how to create a website that was easy to read and professional, in addition to researching Truth for accurate content. All Bennett did was check their work for grammatical errors.
    “I was very proud of the girls,” Bennett said. “They figured out the website themselves.”
    For each level of the contest, the website had to be submitted before the competition. At the competition, judges interview the contestants to determine what they learned. The judges also offer suggestions to make the project better for the next round.
    The website project is due by May 19 for the national contest. Judges mostly suggested minor updates to the Andrews girls, but thought they should also add Truth’s impact through history. Bennett said this would be difficult since the website already is at the top of word count limit, but the girls are figuring out ways to add this section.
    To support the girls’ trip to nationals, visit

    Click here to see the girls’ website is provided on the fundraising page.

Senior art on display
    The public is invited to view the art on display for creative arm of the Cherokee/Clay County Senior Games/SilverArts. The showcase is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the Rock Gym on Connahetta Street, just behind the Hiwassee Pool & Wellness Center in Murphy.
    SilverArts provides a contest for the creative talents of visual, heritage and literary artists. There will be more than 100 pieces on display including painting, photography, woodworking, jewelry, pottery, quilts and other heritage arts. This is the ninth year of SilverArts in the area’s Senior Games.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, or by leaving a message at 837-5122.