Springwood students finish top 3 for documentary

Published 10:06 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

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By Charlotte Reames

It takes a good athlete to make history and a good historian to make history interesting. Springwood students Katherine Stogner, Caroline Van Schoor and Payton Eddy know this fact well after creating a documentary about the 1996 Olympics that won third place in a statewide competition.

For their Honors History class project, the three ninth graders decided to research the 1996 summer Olympics which took place in Atlanta.

Each is a student-athlete; Stogner plays volleyball and tennis while Van Schoor and Eddy are basketball players. They said they were excited to study a subject that held a personal interest for them. 

When they applied for the Alabama History Day competition, they weren’t sure what to expect. The Alabama History Day is a state competition organized by the Alabama Humanities Alliance. The competition engages students in historical research through innovative methods. 

Springwood’s representatives decided to do a documentary because they thought it would be more engaging. 

The girls said they were on a hard deadline after switching their topics last minute. Still, they got right to work, writing the annotated bibliography, doing their research and even interviewing Van Schoor’s mother, who attended the Olympics in Atlanta. 

As they continued their research, the girls were surprised to realize just how much Atlanta has grown over the years. Stogner also said she couldn’t believe how much revenue the Olympics brought to the city.

“And it’s still growing today,” Stogner said. 

Another thing they were surprised to learn was the impact that the 1996 Olympics had on women’s sports and women’s sports leagues like the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association).

“There were a lot of new events that year for women. But I didn’t know that it kind of helped the WNBA start [as well as] a bunch of other professional sports leagues for women,” Van Schoor said, adding that as a basketball player herself, that history interested her.

The girls also realized how the 1996 Olympics helped shine a light on the potential that Atlanta had for more development.

The film industry is just one example of how Atlanta is now being utilized.

“I think it let people see how great of a city Atlanta is,” Eddy said. 

For the competition, contestants were required to find primary and secondary sources for their bibliography.

This was where Van Schoor’s mother and grandmother came in handy.

She had saved memorabilia for over 30 years.

“They went together to the opening ceremony, and they thought it was really cool,” Van Schoor said. “And my grandma still has figurines and T-shirts and papers from that time. So she thinks it’s very cool.”

Then, the students had to present their project to the AHD judges. The girls said they were thankful that their judges took the time to ask them meaningful questions.

The next thing they knew, they had placed third in the 2024 Alabama History Day for their documentary, “How the 1996 Olympics Turned a Profit.”

The girls said they couldn’t believe it.

“We were just sitting there, and I wasn’t really expecting it because I mean, we didn’t really have much time to work on it. But I still thought it was pretty good,” Van Schoor said. “But when I heard third place, I was excited.”

Though there were some obstacles along the way, the girls enjoyed working together on the project. Stogner said they all worked as a team and found their strong suits within the project.