When tenth grader Emma Dumitru visited Washington Crossing Historic Park last summer with her family, it was one of many local sites they visited.
The Dumitru family, of Springfield, NJ, also took day trips to Valley Forge National Park, the New York Historical Society, Morristown, NJ, where Washington’s Continental Army camped twice for the winter, and other places.
But something about Washington Crossing Historic Park stuck with Emma, a student in George Washington University Online High School.
So much so that she made the crossing the subject of her National History Day entry for 2019.
“I’ve always been interested in Revolutionary War history, and what I liked about the crossing was that it wasn’t a specific battle,” Emma says. “Not too many people first think of the crossing when they think about the Revolutionary War. But I wanted to highlight something that had a huge impact on the war.”
After learning that the theme of this year’s National History Day was Triumph and Tragedy, Emma wrote a 2,400-word research paper describing how Washington’s 1776 crossing could have been a tragedy for the Continental Army but was instead a triumph over the British forces occupying Trenton.
On top of that, she earned a perfect score on her paper and was the first student from her high school to enter National History Day.
Emma was born in Philadelphia and grew up close to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Her family later moved to Doylestown for a few years. “Living in such historical places played a role in my interest in Revolutionary War history,” she explains.
While here at the park, Emma and her family visited McConkey’s Ferry Inn and the boat barn in the Historic Village; Bowman’s Hill Tower; and the Thompson-Neely House and Farmstead. She says her favorite thing was “just being surrounded by history.”
“It was really cool standing by the river and seeing the plaque marking the spot where he crossed,” she says. “That’s why I love visiting historical sites: you feel like you’re visiting history.”
After high school, Emma plans to attend college and would like to blend her love of history and the arts into a musical theater degree. It’s no surprise that her favorite musicals are the ones based on historical events.
Someday, this talented student may go from writing about history to making it!