What is National History Day?

By Richard Hargraves, American and World History Teacher

 All Holy Trinity sixth graders competed at Hoover Middle School for the Brevard County qualifier in the Junior High Division (6th-8th grade) on March 9. What is National History Day? I’m glad you asked! National History Day is an event in which schools all over the United States create exhibits, performances, websites, papers and documentaries on historical topics that interest them. Students can work individually or in groups of two to five.

The theme for National History Day changes each year. The theme for this year is “Taking a Stand in History;” students must choose an event, group, person, invention or historical topic that relates to the theme. Students may think about Florida History, U.S. History, another state’s history or world history, and they can choose to focus on music, art, or even sports. A good rule of thumb for students is to focus on a topic that is at least 25 years old or older. It is important for students to understand the historical significance of what they are researching.

Students can choose one of these five categories to present their information:

  • Paper (Individual)
  • Documentary (Individual or Group)
  • Exhibit (Individual or Group)
  • Website (Individual or Group)
  • Performance (Individual or Group)

Our students who participated in National History Day were graded in class and critiqued by their peers to make sure they brought their best overall product to the county qualifier. The first and second place winners of the Brevard County qualifier (Sophia Hibner, Bella Rogers, Kaylie Johnson, Colton Hurlbut, Sophia Bittar, Summer Smith and Austin Olivas) will compete in Tallahassee in May with junior high students from all over the state of Florida. First and second place winners from the Florida state competition will then go on to compete in the national competition in College Park, Maryland in June!

National History Day is such a great program for students since it enhances their knowledge on significant historical topics. Students create memories with their classmates that create an everlasting love for learning. This project emphasizes primary sources, and students will be able to enhance their research in the future with the knowledge they take away from this venture.

Students learn more since they are able to present the information in a plethora of ways. They can create an exhibit, a paper, a documentary, a performance or even a website. Albert Einstein wrote, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Students are judged based on the category they feel confident in, and in that way, every participant is a genius.

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