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JCC student to compete at National History Day

Ana Anthony/Daily Globe Brittany Woodke, from JCC, will travel to Maryland with her project exhibit to participate in the National History Day competition.

JACKSON -- History enthusiast Brittany Woodke has made her school proud by advancing to the National History Day competition, which is set for next month.

Woodke, a sophomore at Jackson County Central, achieved first place for the senior individual exhibit category at the state history day competition that took place April 29.

This year's theme is "Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History," Woodke said, explaining she wanted to pursue a topic related to the World War II era.

"I love history because growing up, I always heard my parents and grandparents talk about it," she said. "World War II fascinates me because the entire country could be so mobilized for a single effort. The selflessness then is something we need to work on more today."

Her project "Women in the War: We Can't Win Without Them" details the roles of women during and after the war, accurately capturing the theme of the competition.

Woodke spend countless hours researching and compiling her project on an exhibit board larger than her stature.

She made trips to the library at the University of Minnesota to access the vast database available there and scan through archives of old newspapers.

The revolution portion of the project displayed the years when women were in the workforce while the men were at war.

"I had two reactions. The men came back and they reacted by pushing the women back into the homes," she said. "Then the women, who were tired of being suppressed, wanted to go back into the workforce."

Reform occurred when women were widely accepted in the workforce.

"Women have very close pay to what men (have) today," she said. "A lot of the pay difference is because the men have held certain positions longer than women have."

Woodke said she began competing in National History Day in sixth grade -- when the project was mandatory. Two years later, the project was made optional, but she continued to participate.

While the project is an additional commitment outside of her busy life of classes, sports -- volleyball and softball, and school theater productions in which she helps as a technician, Woodke enjoys what she does for history.

"This is now purely a nerd indulgence for me," she admitted. "I'll continue to do it until my senior year."

She credits her history teacher, Angela Beckel, as instrumental to her project.

"Although history day projects are no longer a class requirement, her dedication to history day is amazing," Woodke said, adding Beckel spent hours helping her discuss ideas for the project.

Accompanied by Beckel and a history day mentor from Alpha, Woodke and her parents, Bryan and Kay of Lakefield, will travel to University of Maryland, College Park, June 10-14 for the National History Day competition.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony may be reached at 376-7321.