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Watkinson Student from West Hartford Wins Top Spot in History Day Contest

Cooper Megown. Courtesy photo

Watkinson sixth grader Cooper Megown was awarded first place for his project on American Sign Language.

Cooper Megown’s State History Day project. Courtesy photo

Submitted by Jenni French, Watkinson School

Cooper Megown ’27 of West Hartford was awarded first place in the Junior Individual Exhibit category in the Hartford Regional History Day Contest.

As a result of his first place finish, Cooper’s work proceeds to be judged at the statewide level in the State History Day Contest in May.

“This is a wonderful, spectacular accomplishment. Cooper showed extraordinary motivation in the midst of the pandemic and did exceptional work. We are both happy for and proud of him,” commented Watkinson Middle School Head Jenny Esposito.

The theme for this year’s History Day Contest is “communication: the key to understanding” and Cooper immediately connected his fluency with ASL with the fact that the American School for the Deaf is right here in Hartford. “I am fluent in ASL because my mom is a sign language interpreter, and I always had a deaf nanny and deaf babysitter. I also went to a preschool for deaf and hearing, and I went every summer to a science camp for deaf and hearing at Gallaudet University. We are friends with many families who are deaf. It is part of my life! I had the idea for this presentation board to be about deaf actors because one of our good friends is Lauren Ridloff (a deaf American actress known for her role as Connie on the TV series The Walking Dead) and her family, and Lauren is going to be in The Eternals as a new Marvel character. We have been friends with Lauren and Doug and their two sons for many years. Everyone is deaf in that family. So that is why I picked this idea.”

Because of COVID, Cooper did most of his research by email and video chats with people. He considers himself fortunate that he is originally from NYC and that he and his mom know a lot of deaf actors. “I could email them directly and they’ve known me my whole life so they responded. I also know the hearing actor BD Wong and he agreed to answer interview questions too. I did not have to talk to anyone that I did not already know. This made a big difference.”

The virtual state contest takes place on May 1. The day starts at 9 a.m. with a Welcome Ceremony, followed by a number of other virtual activities and historical content. See the day’s events and view all the projects here.

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