DIXFIELD — Dirigo High School sophomore Spencer Jacques’ history project on the 1965 beating death of a Passamaquoddy tribal member will compete in the statewide National History Day contest next month.

Jacques, who won the regional contest this month, said the project aligns with this year’s theme.

“The theme is Triumph and Tragedy,” Jacques said, and the goal is to choose a topic that coincides with that.

Jacques interviewed Michael-Corey Francis Hinton, beating victim Peter Francis’ great-grandson,  studied court documents and read articles about the killing and the history of the Passamaquoddy people written by Colin Woodard in the Portland Press Herald.

No one has been convicted of killing the 59-year-old tribal member just outside the Pleasant Point reservation, although one young Massachusetts hunter was tried for manslaughter and acquitted, according to published reports.

“Once I contacted the (Francis) family, I realized it meant a lot to them, too, because they are still trying to get the word out and they want to find justice for Peter still, in today’s age,” Jacques said.

“So it became less about how do I get to the next level (of the competition) and more about how do I best share this story with everyone else,” he said.

Jacques has entered the National History Day competition since the seventh grade, but this is the first time he’s qualified for the statewide contest.

Among his mentors are his now-retired seventh-grade teacher Sue Boyce-Cormier and high school teachers Beth Edwards and Carolyn Buotte.

Principal Lisa Twomey said Jacques is “a very, very important and influential member of our community. A lot of people look up to him. His peers look up to him.”

Besides being class president, he is on the school Civil Rights team and the cross-country ski and track teams. He also volunteers at Rumford Hospital in the summer.

He’ll head to the state competition in April at the University of Maine in Orono and hopes to qualify for the national competition in Washington, D.C., in June.

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