Liberty students take fifth in NHD competition

William Sweeney, Staff Writer

Throughout the winter months, history teacher Peter Kurtz’s AP world history students have worked hard to create exhibits that reflect this year’s National History Day theme, Frontiers in History. Some of these students chose to enter their exhibits in a competition that took place on March 3 at Evergreen Middle School.

National History Day (NHD) is a non-profit organization that hosts an annual project-based contest for students in grades 6-12. Each year, a theme related to history is chosen for the competition. The theme for the 2023 competition was Frontiers in History, meaning that students were to create an exhibit that reflected a person, place, or idea that sparked massive change and affected our world today.

While many students may not know it, Liberty used to have a club dedicated to National History day. The club was run by former club advisor Joann Olsson, who succeeded in helping students create high-quality projects that could be presented at the competition. With the help of Olsson, five students were able to qualify for nationals in 2016, granting Olsson a Teacher of the Year award.

Despite no longer having a club dedicated to National History Day, Liberty continues to compete each year thanks to the help of history teacher Peter Kurtz and Liberty’s librarian, Lora Gillingham.

“National History Day puts students in the position of a historian and gives them an opportunity to present that in a competition format,” Kurtz said.

While most Liberty students presented their exhibits with a tri-fold board, sophomores Davin Huynh, Jack O’Connell, Lucas Fluegge, Tyler Rubenstein, and Cadin Le worked together to create a documentary instead.

“Our project is about the moon landing in 1969 and how the event has impacted technology, space exploration, and political dynamics,” O’Connell said.

While the National History Day competition is excellent for students looking forward to competing with their friends, the event also allows students to enhance their skills in research and creativity.

“What’s cool about the frontiers project is that it’s not just about the writing and researching,” Kurtz said. “It also has an aspect of artistic flair to it because you have to make an exhibit that looks pretty and demonstrates creativity.”

Throughout the many hours it took to finish the exhibit, the group learned a lot about their topic and developed their skills in many different areas due to the challenging aspect of creating an exhibit.

“By doing the project, I have improved my skills in teamwork and coordination and have learned various new methods to conduct research in a more effective, meaningful way,” Huynh said.

Unfortunately, the group did not win the competition. However, they secured their position as finalists after placing top five in their division.

“We worked hard leading up to the competition and are proud that we were finalists,” said Huynh. “We learned a lot of new things, and overall, it was a great experience.”