St. John student wins Maryland title in National History Day contest

Standing in front of a panel of judges to present her PowerPoint entry on the Titanic for a National History Day contest, Mara Franciscovich held her composure. Although judges tried to stump her with questions about the 46,000-ton ocean liner, the 13-year-old returned steady responses.

“It was the fourth time she had presented it,” said her mother, Cheryl Linscott, of her seventh-grader from St. John Regional Catholic School, Frederick. “The judges bombarded these kids with questions on their topics.”

One judge even asked Mara what Italy and Germany thought of the Titanic and why she had not looked into their newspapers for information.

Mara self-assuredly answered, “I read the ones in English.”

“Titanic – A Fascinating Historical Paradox,” in which Mara depicted how the ship was both a tragedy and a triumph, won her first place in Frederick County. She won the finals at the state level and was named the Junior Individual Documentary winner from Maryland.

That title qualified her for the June four-day national competition, which was held this year at the University of Maryland, College Park, and involved students from across the country and overseas.

“It’s an enormous thing,” said Ms. Linscott. “Some (projects) were breathtaking … the talent of these kids! Some of the historical performances were unbelievable.”

The contest’s requirements were very strict and students had to accomplish the work solo, then defend their topics to the judges.

“We went into this completely blind,” said the proud mom. “Mara just did hers as a school social studies project. It was amazing hers went as far as it did.”

Although Mara didn’t make the national finals, she had a “tremendous experience,” said Ms. Linscott, and learned what it would take to make it next year.

The young girl diligently attended the remainder of the competition with pen and notebook in hand, and commented, “I’m going next year and I’m going to win this.”

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.