Topeka teen gets Washburn Rural Middle School 1st place, first time win in national competition

Someone You Should Know

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Allison Reed is leaving Washburn Rural Middle School as a first-place winner in the National History Day competition. Allison is actually the first student from her school to win first place.

“Going to nationals is the biggest award that you can win,” Reed said. “And I actually got first, which surprised me. I kind of didn’t believe it.”

“We can say, ‘you know, last year we had a first-place winner at National History Day,'” Lindsey Dowell said, Reed’s Gifted Facilitator at Washburn Rural Middle School.

National History Day is a non-profit education organization that offers year-long academic programs to middle- and high-school students around the U.S. and other parts of the world. Each year, students conduct original research on historical topics of interest.

Reed decided to do her project on a man named Martin Couney. You may not know his name, but you know the work he did starting in the late 1800s, as he gave thousands of premature babies a chance to live.

“He didn’t invent the incubator,” Reed said. “But he invented several caring techniques for premature babies. He actually invented a way to feed them with a spoon through the nose. And that was really revolutionary at the time, and nobody had heard of anything like that. He saved thousands and thousands of lives.”

In Reed’s research, she found out Martin Couney had run infant incubator exhibits for years at Coney Island in New York City. Since he wasn’t a medical doctor, he had to find a way to advocate for the babies in a very different way.

“He wasn’t in the medical field, so he couldn’t actually be a doctor and use it in a hospital,” Reed said. “So he had to go to the sideshows. people would actually pay money to see the babies. and that’s how he funded their care. he never charged the parents of his patients for the life-saving care he gave their children

Reed did extensive research on Couney, even interviewing a baby he saved. Winning her first place in the Junior Individual Documentary category.

“I kind of feel privileged that the judges thought I did a good job,” Reed said. “I’m glad that the story will be told at least to some extent. He has a story that deserves to be told. He did a really good thing with his life.”

“Allison is an exemplar student,” Dowell said. “She is a model student. Someone that is just a dream to have in the classroom. She’s incredibly motivated on her own.”

Reed said she doesn’t want to be a historian, even though she enjoys doing the history day projects, she actually thinks she wants to be a journalist.

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