BRADENTON -- Women's suffrage wasn't just about voting. It was about how women dressed, how they acted and where they worked. It was a general shift headed by radical leaders.
One of those radical leaders was Alice Paul, the subject of an essay by Haile Middle School student Hannah Arduini.
"Her passion intrigued me," said Arduini, who will start eighth grade at Haile in the fall. Paul was a women's suffragist in the generation following Susan B. Anthony.
Twelve-year-old Arduini will represent Florida in a National History Day competition this week in College Park, Md. She will be judged on her essay. Arduini and her mother left Sunday for Maryland and will return Thursday night after the final day of competition.
Arduini's essay placed third in the Florida level of the competition. Normally, a third-place finisher is excluded
from competition at the national level, but one of the top two winners backed out, and Arduini stepped in.
"We're very proud of her accomplishment. It's a very tough competition," said Melissa Porter, education and volunteer coordinator at the Manatee Village History Park, which organizes the Manatee County student participation in the state competition.
Arduini will be questioned Monday before a panel of judges on her paper. Arduini chose her topic and focus for the paper within the larger concept of rights and responsibilities -- this year's theme.
Studying history is important to understand how the country got to where it is today, Arduini said.
"My friends say it's just part of the past," she said. "History is what our country is based on."
After working on the essay for three months, Arduini said she is looking forward to her first trip to Washington, D.C. Arduini and her mother, Doreen, plan to do some sightseeing. Arduini's grandparents, who live in Connecticut, are also driving to D.C. to visit.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.