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Jeremiah Thomas proudly wore the 442nd Regimental Combat Team hat at the 36th Annual History Day L.A., a countywide scholastic competition for public and private school students held on March 12.

"My grandpa was in the unit in World War II," said the 10-year-old, referring to the 442nd Infantry Regiment that was composed almost entirely of Japanese Americans. "I picked this subject because it is part of my family's history."

Thomas, of Sierra Madre Elementary in Pasadena, was among more than 600 students in grades 4 to 12 from schools countywide to showcase their scholarly work on U.S. and global historical periods and figures.

Student academic works this year centered on the theme of "Taking a Stand in History," and encompassed a rich variety of subjects, including war, science and politics. The works involved dramatic presentations, exhibits, displays, videos and websites.

LACOE staff, students and re-enactors of Civil War battles and colonial America participated in the event, the largest of its kind in California. It all took place at Azusa Pacific University, LACOE's long-time event partner. The contest is designed to spark interest in history and the social sciences, and put students in virtual touch with the past.

It sparked student Silence Jackson's interest in Jane Addams, the pioneering American social worker and activist.

"Jane Addams was very cool, she took a stand to make America great," said the 6th-grader from Vineland Elementary in Baldwin Park. "I came here and I was able to tell everyone about her."

Participants competed for various awards, and top winners qualified for the National History Day-California state finals set for May 6-7 at William Jessup University in Rocklin, with a chance to compete in June at the National History Day contest in Maryland.

Photo: Students from Vineland Elementary in Baldwin Park USD discover the fun of Colonial Era games during the 36th Annual History Day L.A. at Azusa Pacific University.

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