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April 9, 2008 > History Day 2008

History Day 2008

By Al Minard

The History Day competition for Alameda County was held in the Oakland Museum this year. This competition is open to all Junior and Senior High school students. The competition starts at the School level, goes to County, then to State and finally National. The categories are the same for both Junior High students and Senior High students but they compete against there own division. Nearly 100 Junior and Senior High school students participated in the following categories: Historical Paper, Individual Exhibit, Group Exhibit, Individual Documentary, Group Documentary, Individual Performance, Group Performance, Individual Website and Group Website.

For the past two years I have been fortunate to judge some of these entries. Last year I judged Historical Papers and this year, Junior Documentaries. I firmly believe that any of these documentaries - with very little additional work - could be presented on National Television and everyone would believe that it was done by much older and more experienced persons. Only two entries in each category advance to the State level. The subject for this year's competition was "Conflicts & Compromises in History." Students were required to look at both sides of the issue and analyze what happened and why. Entrants are required to do all of the work, photography, research, letters and everything associated with the project.

I am constantly amazed at how much research is done to complete a project. All of the entries except a written paper require a process paper that tells how they went about their research and why they picked this subject. A bibliography of books. papers and interviews is required; some are three or four pages with 30 or more references to the subject.

I am amazed by the enthusiasm these students have for their subject on history. Contestants who move on to the State level are so excited and cheered on by other students from their school. At the State level, support extends to the entire county and the enthusiasm is even more amazing. The reward is the knowledge that they put together something that has never been done before.

I am disappointed that not one student this year or in last year's competition attended school in Fremont, Union City or Newark. Next years topic will be announced after the State competition on May 8 - 11in Sacramento. I urge teachers and parents to encourage your Junior and Senior High School students to write a history project as part of their English Class. If we do not know our history we are destined to repeat the mistakes.

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