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From Picasso To Hitler: History Day in Fairfield County

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Twins Madeline and Claire Langdon, 12, of Fairfield, wanted to learn how the town they live in was started in 1638, and learned it so well that on Saturday ended up winning a first place prize for their group exhibition “The Pequot War: American’s First Revolution.”

The twins, who are home-schooled, were among 150 students across Fairfield County who participated in Saturday’s Regional History Day at the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering in Stamford.

“Revolution, Reaction and Reform” was the theme at the five regional events held simultaneously across Connecticut Saturday.

“Doing the research was hard work, but we learned so much about how the town we live in was started and how it followed a two-year war that involved the Puritans and Native Americans,” Madeline Langdon said.

Claire Langdon said they were reluctant at first to take on such a major project, but added “it was fun and was all worth it. I can’t believe we got a first place prize.”

The girls will get to compete in the Connecticut History Day competition April 28 for a chance to go on to the 2012 National History Day event in Arlington, Va., June 16-20.

Another Fairfield group, Pequot Home School, was awarded first place in the senior website category for their audio and visual project “The Industrial Revolution: Social Reform.”

“We thought it was a great subject because it touched on all three of the themes as the Industrial Revolution literally changed the way the world lives and works,” said 15-year-old Isabella Altherr, who accepted the award on behalf of the five-student group that worked on the project.

Adolph Hitler, the McCarthy-era "witch-hunt" in the 1950s against Americans believed to be communists and the impact of The Beatles were among other subjects presented.

“We chose Picasso because his art made such an impression on the art world that he impacted so many famous artists who came after him,” said 13-year-old Sarah Baden, an eighth-grader at Rippowam Middle School in Stamford who worked on the project with classmates Gesele Levin and Allison Koszkul, also both 13.

Another group of students from Rippowam School stood nearby at their display “The Airplane: Revolution in Warfare.”

“We wanted to show how much airplanes have evolved from the time when Wilbur and Orville Wright started flying their gliders in 1903, to when planes were used in World War I and to how they have now replaced the battlefield as the main way wars are fought,” said 13-year-old Jillian Rutstein, who worked on the project along with eighth grade classmates Alexa Baer, 13, and Allison Ferro, 14.

“The cool thing is how far the airplane has come in just over 100 years,” said Ferro. “The Wright brothers never could have imagined how far their invention would go.”

Richard Harper, regional coordinator for the Fairfield County event, said he was "dazzled and amazed by the excitement for history" displayed by many of the students.

"The subjects ranged from art and music to guns, war and revolution," Harper said. "The students brought history to life."

The event was co-sponsored by Connecticut Old State House and the Connecticut Historical Society.

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