For the past 11 years, Junior Scholastic®, a social studies magazine for students in grades 6–8, has hosted the Eyewitness to History contest, which encourages students to connect with members of their community and interview people who have experienced historic events in person.
This year’s grand-prize winner is sixth-grade student Shyla Rajavong from Avondale, Pennsylvania.
Shyla interviewed her uncle, Mike Lim, about his experience growing up during—and surviving—the Khmer Rouge’s tyrannical control over Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
Shyla’s entry, “Surviving My Country’s Nightmare,” describes how the Khmer Rouge regime upturned the lives of her uncle, his family, and millions of other Cambodians. Lim’s first-person account brings alive the experience of being enslaved by a cruel system, how he survived, and how he came to build a new life in the U.S. For her grand-prize-winning entry, Shyla and her teacher, Steve Finegan, will each receive $250. You can read Shyla’s interview with Lim in the May 2022 issue of Junior Scholastic and online, here.
Junior Scholastic has also chosen two runners-up from more than 250 entries in this year's Eyewitness to History contest. They are:
Abby Brener, an eighth-grade student from the Woodcrest School in Rifton, New York. Abby interviewed Tibor Spitz, a survivor of the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia during World War II. Her teacher is Lisabeth Button. Abby and her teacher will receive $50 each.
Katelyn Hickey, a sixth-grade student from Scotts Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Katelyn interviewed Dr. Sasa Ivanovic, who lived through Croatia’s war for independence from 1991 to 1995. Her teacher is Marisa Thamm. Katelyn and her teacher will also receive $50 each.
Congratulations to Shyla, Abby, Katelyn, and their teachers, as well as all of this year’s contest participants and the interviewees who shared their compelling experiences.