Return to Headlines

Ola Student, Teacher Selected to Represent Georgia at Inaugural 2024 Young People’s Continental Congress in Philadelphia

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Ola High School 10th-grader Madelyn Reardanz and Ola Middle School eighth-grade social studies teacher Zachary Barfield were selected to attend the first Young People’s Continental Congress in Philadelphia (YPCC) this July.

National History Day® (NHD) will host the event at the historic Carpenters’ Hall, home of the First Continental Congress, which convened in 1774. This year marks the 250th anniversary of that foundational event in the history of our nation.

During the five-day visit, specially invited teachers and high school sophomores from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories will explore the legacies of America’s founding fathers and participate in other activities, including delegate sessions on a range of modern issues and visits to other iconic historical sites such as the Museum of the American Revolution.

Reardanz and Barfield will participate in monthly meetings with historians leading up to the July event. These sessions will facilitate in-depth examination of various aspects of American history, including the impact of the Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence on U.S. history.

NHD selected Barfield on the recommendation of state affiliates based on his successful involvement in the program over the past 10 years. His students earned second place in the organization’s nationwide competition last year. 

“The National History Day program has been a blessing in my life,” Barfield said. “I have been able to steer my students toward greatness. By harnessing their critical thinking prowess, research abilities, and editing skills, my students have been able to experience opportunities ​that others typically don’t access until much later.”

Reardanz also has experience in the competition, participating for the third year. She placed first at the state level as an eighth- and ninth-grade student. Her win in the ninth grade was even more impressive, as she competed against sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Reardanz placed in the top three nationally in 2022.

“I was very excited to be chosen as the Georgia student representative for the Young People’s Continental Congress this year,” Reardanz said. “I feel honored to have this opportunity, as I get to travel to Philadelphia and learn more about our country’s history. I am proud to represent Georgia as the back-to-back National History Day Georgia State Champion for my Junior Individual Exhibit. I cannot wait to go to Philadelphia this summer and meet other students with the same passion for history!”

The NHD program is dedicated to promoting the teaching and learning of history and seeks to deepen participants’ understanding of America’s rich history and the founding of the nation. Additionally, students develop skills in research, project management, and communication.

“The exhibits, documentaries, papers, websites, and performances developed around a specific moment in history show a deep level of analysis that teachers do not typically see within the classroom,” Barfield said. “I am thrilled with what my students achieve as they develop their projects, and I am proud of their growth in competing against other brilliant students across the state and nation. NHD is an adventure worth taking, enabling us to keep ‘Winning for Kids’ by preparing them for success in a rigorous, college-level project.”

“Madelyn and Mr. Barfield, representing Henry County Schools and the state of Georgia, is further evidence of our focus on a high-quality, world-class education that leads to opportunities, access, and outcomes,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis. “We applaud their dedication to America’s history and are grateful for this program, which will undoubtedly enrich their academic and personal growth.”

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.