Students at Immaculate Conception in Towson honored with history awards

Judy Dobbs, left, presents Immaculate Conception School students Caroline Cucuzzella and Alayna Ptak with the Judy Dobbs Prize for Naval History, Junior Division, for their presentation about the sinking of the whaleship Essex.

Several students from Immaculate Conception School (ICS) in Towson were among those honored with awards at Maryland History Day on May 12 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Megan Droney, Katie Fuscaldo, Kristina Melegari, Kara Hartley, Caroline Cucuzzella and Alayna Ptak were recognized for their efforts. All are students of ICS teacher Shannon Radebaugh.


Kara Hartley won the 2019 Maryland History Day Special Prize for History of Science and Technology for her performance, “From Tragedy To Triumph: Dr. Lillehei and Cardiopulmonary Bypass.” Hartley was presented with the award by Amy Froide of UMBC’s Department of History, which sponsors the special prize.

Caroline Cucuzzella and Alayna Ptak won the Judy Dobbs Prize for Naval History, Junior Division for “Triumph at Land; Tragedy at Sea,” their performance about the sinking of the whaleship Essex. The award was presented by Judy Dobbs, who recently retired after 33 years with Maryland Humanities.


Megan Droney, Katie Fuscaldo and Kristina Melegari won the Junior Group Exhibit, First Place, and Special Prize in Women’s History, Junior Division, for their project, “Striking Out to Hitting Home Runs: How the AAGPB Saved Baseball During World War II and Impacted Women’s Sports.”

Maryland History Day sparks critical thinking and helps develop skills in research and analysis, writing and public speaking. The competition was the culmination of a yearlong program supported by the statewide nonprofit organization Maryland Humanities (

More than 25,000 Maryland public, private, parochial and home-schooled students in grades 6 through 12 participated in the programs throughout the year. Students worked solo or in small groups, creating original documentary films, exhibits, performances, research papers or websites exploring a historical topic of their choice centered on this year’s theme, “Triumph and Tragedy in History.”

Nearly 700 middle and high school students gathered at UMBC to present their extensive historical research at the Maryland History Day competition. Competitors at the event had already won first or second place in their category at school and district levels.

Droney, Fuscaldo and Melegari will be among those advancing to represent Maryland at the National History Day competition June 9-13, at the University of Maryland in College Park. That competition will host 3,000 participants from across the United States and beyond. National History Day ( is headquartered in College Park, and the Maryland History Day program is an affiliate of the National History Day organization.

More than a half-million middle and high school students across the country participate in NHD programs, such as the annual National History Day Contest, creating historical, research-based projects. NHD also provides professional development and curriculum materials for teachers.

Speaking of teachers, Frank Passaro is deserving of some accolades as well. Passaro, a social studies faculty member at Calvert Hall College High School, was named Maryland History Day District Teacher of the Year. Congratulations!