Butler County senior wins national history essay contest: How she did it

Talawanda High School senior Michelle Miao was the winner of national history essay contest, choosing to write about the Colonial Committees of Correspondence which roused feelings against the British in order to gain support for the Revolutionary War. CONTRIBUTED
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Talawanda High School senior Michelle Miao was the winner of national history essay contest, choosing to write about the Colonial Committees of Correspondence which roused feelings against the British in order to gain support for the Revolutionary War. CONTRIBUTED

A Talawanda High School student who aspires to attend Georgetown University next year with a double major has won a national history essay contest.

Michelle Miao won first place in the Senior Paper category of the National History Day Contest, with winners announced as part of a week-long event at the University of Maryland.

The title of her essay was “Kindling the Flame of Revolution: Communication and Committees of Correspondence in Colonial America.”

Miao said she decided to enter the contest because she likes both history and the social sciences.

“I saw the contest but I did not expect to win,” she said. “My mom and I were watching the awards ceremony together. There was a lot of screaming. I am honored and excited to be able to win.”

Sponsored by National History Day 2021, the contest was one of many categories all built around the theme “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” Categories included individual and group competitions in both junior and senior levels in areas such as documentaries, exhibits, performances, web sites and essays.

The final essay was 2,500 words plus an extensive bibliography, 25 pages in all. There were three rounds of judging – regional, state and national – over the course of five months.

Her prizes were three medals, one for each round of the contest, a $1,000 prize and a full scholarship for the National History Academy next summer.

Miao has a long had an interest in history and said she has taken 18 history classes between Talawanda and Miami University, including government courses. She has also taken a total of 18 Miami courses, including three this semester. One of those current courses is in journalism. The Miami classes have offered a chance to go beyond high school, she said.

Miao said winning the history essay contest gives her many opportunities, including a YouTube interview and one in a history magazine. Her essay is being published as a paper in an academic journal, “History Teacher.”

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