Thursday, April 25, 2024

A 'turning point' in local history

Student History Fair results in record number of entries


Hood County students showed their pride in Texas with a record 171 entries for the Student Texas History Fair this year.

The Student Texas History Fair is an event held every year around Texas’ Independence Day to promote Texas education and appreciation in the local community.

The annual event is sponsored by the Texas Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to educate individuals of all ages about the history of the state of Texas in order to preserve its accuracy, encourage appreciation for its richness, and raise funds to accomplish these goals, according to

"For the past 11 years our foundation has held a Student Texas History Fair to celebrate Texas' Independence Day for students across North Texas in grades 3-12,” Student History Fair Coordinator Heather Flannery told the Hood County News. “Over the years we have awarded over $40,000 to students who have entered and won.”

Flannery explained that this year, the theme was “Turning Points in Texas History.” Students created projects in five categories (artwork, exhibit, research paper, creative writing and performing arts) with themes spanning Texas history from the Caddo Indians and the Texas Rangers all the way to the Astrodome and Lady Bird Johnson.

After working on their projects for the past several weeks, the students attended the Student Texas History Fair Award Ceremony Friday, March 1, where awards were given for first, second and third place in each category, along with a cash prize.

The award ceremony kicked off with a message from Texas Heroes Foundation President Gary Foreman, who commented that he could feel the energy and love for Texas history as students were bringing their projects into the Acton United Methodist Church.

"I ran into a number of kids and parents in the several days that the exhibits were coming in, and I have to tell you, I'm so proud of all of you for your efforts,” he said. “Our mission is to bring history to life. Our mission is to get you excited about the Texas you live in, so everything that we do at the Texas Heroes Foundation is to create more awareness of the great legacy of what we've left behind. But we don't want to just have you know about the past; we want the past to have an impact on you as you move into the present and the future.”

Foreman then introduced Judge Bryan Bufkin, who served as the master of ceremonies for the award ceremony.

“This is my third time hosting this event, and I love this event,” Bufkin said, during the ceremony. “Part of what I love about it so much is that it's open to everybody that's a student in this area. Whether you're in home-school, private school, public school, or co-op, if you care about studying Texas history and you're a student, we want to have that here."

Bufkin added that he loves seeing people come together to celebrate history. He said he believes when students research a project, they’re never going to forget what they learned.

"Maybe it's my optimistic viewpoint but I believe that one day in the future, some of the kids who worked on these projects will be in the history books for the things they have done based on the inspiration they took from the projects they worked on,” he said.

Following his speech and a presentation of “Texas, Our Texas,” from Acton Elementary School students, Bufkin introduced the keynote speaker for the evening: Hyde Media Group Chief Operating Officer Sam Houston.

Houston launched into a tale about “The Great Challenges for Texas,” as viewed by his namesake, the American general and statesman, Sam Houston.

“It's easy to remember the heroes in (the Battle of) San Jacinto, the Crocketts, the Rusks . . . but I assure you, the everyday man and woman who faced declining environment, the weather, the settlers, and Santa Anna, they are the true heroes,” Houston said, as he started to conclude his speech. “As I leave you today, especially young people, I want you to pause and reflect on the brave men and women who fought and died to keep Texas. Remember forever that the heritage, the blood of those brave men and women are part of you. And most of all, always remember, of all the people on God's green earth, you have the honor and the privilege of saying that you are a Texan. God bless you and God bless our sacred Texas.”

Bufkin then introduced the award presentation and explained that the judges — Dan Vanderburg, Ron Sutton, Kathy Hanlon and Barbara Sutton — were selected by a committee from historically-minded groups in the surrounding community and region.

"Tonight, we're proud to recognize and honor those deserving students whose work has been selected by our panel of judges based on the rubric for their particular category,” Bufkin said. “I can tell you that our judges take this very seriously and that they worked very hard. I can also tell you that our judges are very impressed, and that all the students made it very hard for them to choose the winners of these candidates because you all did such a great job."

When Bufkin introduced Flannery, she started off by saying how it’s been an honor to serve as the committee chairperson of the Student History Fair for the past six years.

"As a teacher, I know how important it is to engage students in learning so they can find the joy and the independent drive to want to learn more,” she said. “I've seen how excited these kids get when they are working on a fun project, and I've enjoyed speaking to them during the intake and learning about how they develop their projects. Students, thank you for having the courage and taking the time to participate in this year's history fair. Regardless of whether you win an award, you should all feel rewarded for learning more about our state's rich history and gaining knowledge about turning points that changed who we are and where we're from. I hope you will feel inspired to continue learning about what makes Texas so wonderful.”

The winners for each category were announced, with Flannery explaining that in each category, project entries are judged on the same overarching merits of historical quality in relation to this year’s theme, clarity of the presentation, and compliance.

Third place in each category received $50, second place received $75, and first place received $100. The group award given to students in each category and level received $50. Senior scholarship winners received $500, and the People’s Choice Award winner received $100.

The Student History Fair winners are listed below according to category and grade level:



  1. Jonathan Gibson, Home-school

Middle School:

  1. Noah Gibson, Home-school
  2. Erin Huebinger, Acton Middle School
  3. Gavin Sullivan, Acton Middle School

High School:

  1. Emma Farrell, Granbury High School
  2. Victoria Brown, Legacy Christian Academy


Middle School:

  1. Claire Dieterichs, Trinity Faith Academy
  2. Julie Benton, Acton Middle School
  3. Sofia Ferguson, Acton Middle School

High School:

  1. Elizabeth Long, Trinity Faith Academy
  2. Elaina Brown, Legacy Christian Academy
  3. Christianna Brown, Legacy Christian Academy



  1. Liam Burnell, Oak Woods Elementary
  2. Avari Logsdon, Oak Woods Elementary
  3. Livi Gordon, Trinity Faith Academy

Middle School:

  1. Jackson Fischer, Trinity Faith Academy
  2. Isabella Rice, Home-school
  3. Abigail Sullivan

Group: Avery Oelschig, Haley Smith, and Brylee Brooks

High School:

  1. Erin Clary, Bluff Dale High School
  2. Abigail Beatty, Home-school
  3. Elaina Brown, Legacy Christian Academy



  1. Lily Fowler
  2. Katie Hinton, Oak Woods Elementary
  3. Dillon Ford, Oak Woods Elementary

Group: Emma Whitten and Kami Croy, Acton Elementary

Middle School:

  1. Liam La Plant, Acton Middle School
  2. Annabel Ross, Granbury Middle School
  3. Sofia Ramirez, Granbury Middle School

Group: Xiadany Palacios and Angelique Tovar

High School:

  1. Hailey Hensley, Premier High School
  2. Christianna Brown, Legacy Christian Academy
  3. Fiona Doss, Granbury High School



  1. Daniel O’Dell, Oak Woods Elementary
  2. Joshua Brown, Legacy Christian Academy
  3. Timothy Bean, Oak Woods Elementary

Middle School

  1. Rainn Sherwood, Granbury Middle School
  2. Claire Dieterichs, Trinity Faith Academy
  3. Alonna Brown, Legacy Christian Academy

Group: Shae Sailer and Kizzie Fleming, Acton Middle School

Senior Scholarships: Elizabeth Long, Trinity Faith Academy and Christianna Brown, Legacy Christian Academy

Crockett Family Award: Jake Gill and Tripp Watson, Acton Elementary

Crockett Family Senior Scholarship: Hailey Hensley, Premier High School

People’s Choice Award: Liam La Plant, Acton Middle School and Emme Layne Williams, Oak Woods Elementary

Texas Teacher Awards: Mrs. Tamera Hatfield and Mrs. Keryn Herbold of Oak Woods Elementary; Coach Kyle Sentel and Coach Aaron Wright of Acton Middle School.

“The students took their time to research their projects and create something that will stick with them forever,” Flannery told the HCN. “This year we had the most entries I have seen and lots of new ideas. It's my hope that they all enjoyed the experience and will continue to learn more about Texas' rich history."