TCU’S Unit 50 ANR Justin Johnson’s son & his project partner head to the 2023 National History Day National Contest

Paxton Poe (left) and Jack Savenko (right) with their project.

Our own Assistant National Representative Justin Johnson’s son Jack Savenko, and his project partner Paxton Poe have qualified for the National History Day (NHD) National Contest in College Park, MD on June 11-15, 2023 for their project which focuses on railroading.
This year’s topic was “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.” Jack and Paxton chose to do a group exhibit titled “Uniting the East and West: A Frontier in Transportation.” Jack and Paxton are 7th-grade students at Washburn Rural Middle School in Topeka, Kansas.
Jack and Paxton placed 2nd in the district competition which qualified them for the state competition where they also placed second. The top two teams in the state of Kansas are moving on to the national competition. According to the NHD website, about 3,000 students from across the United States and around the world compete each June in College Park.
Justin Johnson was promoted to Assistant National Representative of Unit 50 in September 2022.  When asked how they came up with this topic for the project, Jack said, “When searching for ideas, I first asked my father what he thought fit the theme of frontiers the best. Being employed by previously BNSF and now for TCU, he suggested that I research the history of locomotives…So we decided upon the railroad,” said Jack.
Jack and Paxton’s project focuses on the history of the Transcontinental Railroad. 

Display built by Jack and Paxton including numerous old railroad artifacts.

“The creation of this railroad was interesting to us because it was very significant over a short period. It was the first railroad to allow people to travel from Eastern to Western America. In addition, it saved people time and money. Another reason we found it interesting and significant in history, was that the West would be able to send or receive items from the East, enhancing its economy. Finally, completion of the railroad would help establish yet another frontier; the country’s quest for manifest destiny,” said Jack.

Jack listening to instructions and feedback from judges to help make their project better in the next phase.

Jack and Paxton are excited to have this opportunity to travel to Maryland next week.
“I am excited that we have the opportunity to go to the national contest because we’ve worked really hard on this project all school year and we had to compete against other really great projects,” said Paxton.
There has been a lot of preparation involved. Jack and Paxton have edited their project based on feedback from judges, continued researching, added to their annotated bibliography and have been practicing their presentation.
“I’m very proud of Jack and his partner Paxton for the amount of work and dedication that they put into this project.  It takes a lot of sacrifices to spend time away from school and other activities they have going to accomplish something like this,” said Justin Johnson.
The TCU/IAM Family is wishing the best of luck to Jack and Paxton in the 2023 National History Day competition! Go, Jack and Paxton!