For Niwot student and history buff Stephanie Reitzig, Colorado Governor Ralph L. Carr is exactly the type of historical figure that deserves to be rescued from obscurity. As an outspoken critic of the internment of Japanese-Americans following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Carr’s commitment to civil rights and racial equality earned him enmity from fellow governors, voters, and the press, and is widely thought to have cost him a promising career in politics.
This principled position in the face of nearly universal opposition is why Reitzig chose Carr as the subject of her entry for the 2017 National History Day (NHD) Contest.
NHD is a non-profit educational organization that promotes historical research in middle and high schools, and this year’s Contest theme, Taking a Stand in History, generated more than 3,000 entries. Last month, Reitzig’s entry, By the Code of Humanity: Ralph Carr Takes a Stand for Japanese American Rights in World War II, took first place in the senior paper category. She received a cash prize and was named a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar for the win.
“I chose to write about Carr in particular, because I was amazed that, despite having lived in Colorado my whole life, I’d never heard of him before, even though what he did was so incredible and so influential,” she said of her project. “I was completely surprised to hear my name called for first place! I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
The accolades for Reitzig’s work don’t end there. She was also a Centennial Award recipient in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library’s Profiles in Courage essay contest and an Honorable Mention in the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing.
June was a busy month for the 4.0 IB student, who just completed her junior year. In mid-June, Reitzig and Vidhya Dev represented Niwot at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Alabama. Though she didn’t make it out of the preliminary rounds for her primary event, Foreign Extemporaneous speaking, next year’s Forensics Head Captain was pleasantly surprised by her performance in a brand new event.
“I also got to try a new event, Extemporaneous Commentary, which is only offered at nationals, and it turned out to be a ton of fun,” she said. “All in all, it was fun just to get to compete against such incredibly talented people.”
Reitzig will be even busier during her senior year, if that’s possible. Aside from heading up the debate team, she is also president of Model UN, secretary of Interact Club, secretary of National Honor Society, and president of Knitting Club. When she can fit it in, she also participates in Mock Trial.
Although her post-high school plans are not yet fixed, she hopes to study history in college and eventually obtain a graduate degree. Before that, though, she just hopes to make the most of her senior year.
“Being a student at Niwot High School is such an amazing experience. All of the teachers, staff, and students there are so talented, intelligent, and passionate about what they do, and it really shines through. I’m excited to return next year!”