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COMPETING WITH KIDS NATIONWIDE FOUR HEAD TO WASHINGTON CASTAIC MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS AIM TO WIN PRIZE FOR THEIR HISTORY PROJECTS.

Byline: SUE DOYLE Staff Writer

CASTAIC -- Four Castaic Middle School students who have creamed their competitors in county and state history competitions are hoping for a three-peat at the nationals.

The four head next month to Washington, D.C., where they'll represent Los Angeles County at National History Day.

The event involves about 100 competitors, no more than two from each state, who tell history tales through different mediums, such as Web sites, plays, research papers, documentaries and board projects.

At Castaic Middle School, seventh-graders Sarah Dimonte, Tamara Long and Tess Molinar along with sixth-grader Tomo Downs have worked on their projects for hundreds of hours after school since the fall with video production teacher Ro Osano.

``It's taken many a night for them to come in and do this, but they are hard-chargers,'' Osano said.

Sarah, Tamara and Tess created a 10-minute documentary on segregation, telling the 1957 story of the Little Rock Nine, the first blacks to attend Little Rock Central High School and their push for an education equal to that of their white peers.

Through black-and-white photos and old footage, the girls pieced together the story, complete with actual interviews with the participants. The three take turns narrating as the story unfolds.

Aside from learning about the video cameras and editing equipment they used for the documentary, the students were intrigued by the history lesson that they became immersed in.

``They were around our age and did what they believed in and wanted to,'' Tamara said.

While the girls worked on their documentary, Tomo opted to make a blue-and-red stand full of pictures and information about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese U.S. Army troop that was the most-decorated outfit in World War II fighting.

Using a bottle cap, Tomo circled the face of one young soldier in red -- the man who became his grandfather, Tomo Ichi Matsuda.

Because his grandfather died five years ago, Tomo learned much of the information for his project through interviews with other Japanese-American veterans. He also visited foundations and museums that focus on Japanese history.

After reading about the struggle Japanese-Americans faced during WWII, Tomo was immediately hooked on the story, especially after learning about internment camps. Osano estimated that Tomo spent more than 300 hours on his project.

``The first day that I started researching this, I was like -- whoa,'' Tomo said.

sue.doyle(at)dailynews.com

(661) 257-5254

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2 photos

Photo:

(1) Sarah Dimonte, 13, Tamara Long, 13 and Tess Molinar, 12, work in the editing bay where they produced their award-winning documentary called ``The Little Rock Nine.'' The Castaic Middle School students will compete nationally with their video.

(2) Tomo Downs, 12, shows his display on the Japanese-American combat team from World War II. The Castaic Middle School student won a regional competition.

David Crane/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 25, 2006
Words:474
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