Students compete with National History Day projects

Chloe Winn, Staff Writer

Research, organization, designing, and speaking are usually the skills developed in English and social studies classes, but for seniors Kiran Singh, Siri Bhatt and juniors Maddie Prather and Katrina Filer, these are ones they honed over the past few years as participants in National History Day.
National History Day competitions are held all across the country and world. More than half a million students and 30,000 teachers participate annually. Liberty has participated for the past five years and made it to nationals every year. Two years ago they even got sixth place nationally. This year 17 students are competing in the event, they range from grades 10-12.
Students compete by making a project that fits that year’s theme and then present it locally. The top projects are then moved on to the state level contest. Then the top two entries from each state are accepted into the national level, where they compete against other states and students from Guam, American Samoa, and international schools in China, Korea, South Asia, and Central America. The national contest takes place in Maryland and is a week long event.
“I’m in it to win it! I think it is very important to make closer analysis of history and develope your beliefs through that knowledge”, junior Katrina Filer said.
Some of Liberty’s history teachers have their students make projects for the event.
“It allows them to focus on an area of study they always wanted to do, so I think they get really excited about it and proud about it”, teacher Peter Kurtz said.
Teachers assign this project because some say it puts students in the place of a historian. Kurtz likes how the project makes students question how it has impacted them.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work. But if you like history, like working with groups, you like investigating things and trying to put together puzzle pieces, kids really love it and have a lot of fun” National History Day advisor JoAnn Olsson said.
“It has taught me to research way more thoroughly than for any other project I’ve had”, Filer said.
The theme this year is “Taking a Stand in History.” The theme requires students to identify revolutionaries in history, which can range from fighting to nonviolent resistance.
“They really have to dig into that subject and become an expert in it to reflect what they wanted but by saying how they took the stand, they were also saying what they valued”, Kurtz said.
This ended up showing what the student values as well.
“So it’s like a mirror, it’s a process that gets them to really evaluate themselves and what they’ve done and the environment that they’re in,” Kurtz said.