Heritage Museum Announces History Contest Winners


“Vashon is worthy of a poem!” So explained budding poet Josie Reiling, one of the winners in the 2020 contest held by the Vashon Heritage Museum for 9- to 11-year-olds, or 4th and 5th graders, each year. Thanks also to our sponsors who make the contest possible, Thriftway, Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union, and 4Culture.

Results are in! More students than ever participated in this year’s contest, so additional prizes were awarded. This year the museum presented two $100 first prizes, two $50 second prizes and two $25 third prizes. A new category was also added: History Buff. The winners in this category show a strong interest in history, and each received a copy of the illustrated book Vashon-Maury Island by local authors Bruce Haulman and Jean Cammon Findlay. Finally, nine students each received an Honorable Mention, for their entries were clearly worthy of recognition. Participants showed imagination and perseverance, especially important this year when the stay-home order has closed the library and the museum. Because of the current restrictions on life, all the entries were submitted electronically. For the same reason, in lieu of a celebration party, winners were announced on the Museum’s website this week.

Leif McBennett and Miriam Casad won the 2020 Vashon Heritage Museum contest’s first prizes. Leif, son of Tara McBennett, produced a historical essay, “Vashon Strawberry Industry,” illustrated with color photographs. He said this was the first time he had done a project which involved writing that included information he had gathered. Miriam, daughter of Andrew and Michelle Casad, described the Salmon Bake at St. Patrick’s Church in Dockton and more recently at St. John Vianney.

Second prizes went to Brendan Blower, son of Aaron Blower, and Bennett Thorpe, whose parents are Laurie and Scott Thorpe. Bennett entered a stop action video using Lego characters to represent Native Americans in a landscape including longhouse, forest and beach. Brendan presented historical details about the Dockton Dry Dock.

Antoinette Guy and Alexis Delgado each won a third prize. Antoinette, daughter of Toni and Matthew Guy, presented an essay accompanied by a video collage about Maury Island’s flying saucer. Alexis, whose parents are Irene and Alex Tokar, included fascinating information about squid fishing in his essay about the Tramp Harbor Dock.

Our future historians who won the History Buff prize are Emily Rock, daughter of Taj and Danny Rock; Natasha Sullivan, who is Sarah Sullivan’s daughter; and Weston Dorr, who incorporated a lot of historical information as he wrote about Admiral James Vashon in a humorous way. Weston is the son of Alice and Russ Dorr. Emily’s essay, “Horse Riding on Vashon,” gives us a picture of this activity on the island, while Natasha’s essay concentrated on the island’s history.

The following students earned honorable mentions. Grant Fitterer, son of Elizabeth and Dylan Fitterer, searched his memory to create his poem, “This Place,” and presented it on an abstractly painted background. Henry Jonasson, whose parents are Maia Chance and Zach Jonasson, drew his favorite birds of Vashon Island, the Northern Flicker, Anna’s Hummingbird, and Steller’s Jay. Charlie Irish, son of Chelsie and Jonathan Irish, shows Island historical scenes in a comic strip he drew, including events long ago and today. Matilda Strain, daughter of Lauren and Brad Strain, painted an orca in our waters against a dark sky. Maren Stern, whose parents are Jordan Howland and Gabe Stern, wrote a group of haikus in order to describe Vashon Island to us. Isaac Hobson, who is Kristy and Jamal Hobson’s son, explained how he came to live on this island. Zoe Star D’Artell, daughter of Deborah and Quinn D’Artell, created her own aerial dance and chose its music, both to represent feelings about Vashon. Lucy Ahern, whose parents are Shauna and Dan Ahern, wrote about “What Vashon means to me,” including experiences like drinking hot cider at the annual tree lighting. Finally, two girls did a project together: Emi Odegard, daughter of Haley and Eric Odegard and Josie Reiling, whose parents are Karen and Brian Reiling. They used lots of time on Zoom to consult with each other and write the poem, “Many Wonders All in One.”

Also participating were Sophia and Simon Lanphear whose parents are Damon and Rebecca Lanphear.  Simon’s project was an interview with the owner of Anu Rana’s tea shop and Sophia did a large poster on “The History of the Blue Heron.”

Students indicated how much they learned about their topics as well as how to create and complete a project. Bennett said that he learned to have more patience, and Brendan said that this was the first project that he had ever typed. Antoinette had never done an actual site visit for a project before.  Natasha said the contest “was a nice way to get to know where I live a little better.” More than one student found out, as Leif said, “There’s not a lot on the web” about their topic.

Our local 4th and 5th graders not only learned a lot about completing a project, they learned a lot about Vashon-Maury Island.