by Jess Clackum
Avery Daugherty and Jessee Ford, students at Baseline Middle School in South Haven, Michigan competed at the National History Day Competition held June 12-16, 2016 at the University of Maryland in College Park. The annual event brings together thousands of middle and high school students, parents and teachers from all over the world. Students are invited to attend after rigorous competitions at the regional and state level.
Inspired by stories of strong women, Avery and Jessee chose to focus on the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) with their documentary titled, Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A W.A.S.P. When they learned of the movement spearheaded by Arizona Congresswoman and veteran combat pilot Martha McSally and Erin Miller, granddaughter of WASP Elaine Harmon, to restore the WASP inurnment rights at Arlington National Cemetery, they were further emboldened to tell the story. Their hard work earned them first place in the National History Day competition in their home state of Michigan. Their presentation of the documentary at the National competition was perfectly timed, on the heels of President Obama’s May signing of the Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act also known as the WASP AIR ACT. Though they did not win at the National competition, Avery & Jessee did an outstanding job representing Baseline Middle School and the state of Michigan with their historical documentary.
The girls are passionate about storytelling, especially stories that inspire. Avery says, "We want people, particularly young girls to know they can do anything. The sky's the limit, literally. You don't have to be held back by gender barriers."
Avery and Jessee are no strangers to filmmaking. In 2015 they placed 2nd in the Regionals with a documentary Nikola Tesla - The Man Who Held Lightning. This dynamic duo demonstrates exceptional research, interview and storytelling skills in their work and with their talent, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. We celebrate their passion and ambition and look forward to more exceptional work from them in the future!