St. Luke student's historical film advances to national competition
Going above and beyond the typical eighth-grade social studies project requirements at St. Luke Parish School, student Patrick Hicks recently created an award-winning documentary, "Taking Illinois into the New Age: The Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention."
Not all schools require students to participate in history fairs, but St. Luke Parish School makes a point of it, spurring each graduating class to learn valuable academic skills including historical research techniques, according to Hicks' parents.
The only restriction was that the topic had to date back at least 25 years, which ended up actually generating his choice. Originally hoping to spotlight Illinois’ current pension crisis, Hicks allowed the guidelines to inspire him rather than discourage him and opted to research the predicament’s cause.
When he delved in, Patrick discovered the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention — an event that occurred in 1970 — to be the chronological root of today’s problem, thus sealing his selection. As part of his project, he interviewed Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
“Patrick has had a strong interest in history from a young age,” his mother, Tamara, said. “He enjoys acquiring knowledge and could be described as ‘non-fiction’ kid. As he has grown older, he has developed an interest in current events. He follows the news and has a good general knowledge of politics and what is going on in the world.”
The final result was so successful that Hicks received a letter from Chicago Metro History Fair organizers that his film will advance to the national competition. He competed against more than 60 other documentary film entries from junior and senior high schools statewide.
This year’s event, themed “Conflict & Compromise in History,” was open to students in grades six through 12.
“This rigorous and rewarding program prepares youth for high school and college expectations as well as civic engagement,” the event website said.
Patrick’s project passed the state level and is now headed for the June 10-14 National History Day (NHD) competition at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus. Illinois organizers described those selected to attend the national event as having earned “a special honor.”
“They serve as ambassadors for Illinois throughout the competition, interacting with students from other states and meeting with legislators,” Chicago Metro History Fair director Lisa Oppenheim wrote in the letter to Hicks.
Although his parents assisted him in brainstorming ideas and lent a hand scheduling interviews, “Patrick took the project and ran from there,” said his mother, describing how Hicks took charge without hesitation.
“He wrote all the interview questions and conducted the interviews,” she stated. “He conducted a large amount of research … researched historical images, wrote the script and did all the technical work.”
In his documentary, the teen conveyed the need to reduce conflict and work toward compromise in government affairs. After his June graduation from St. Luke in River Forest, he will enroll at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.