April 20, 2012 > National History Day
National History Day
Submitted By Apoorva Rajanala
Ten eighth grade students from Fremont's Hopkins Junior High will be participating in the National History Day state contest at the Riverside Convention Center in Southern California April 27-29. National History Day (NHD) is a year-long education program through which students are encouraged to explore local, state, national, and world history using a variety of primary and secondary sources. Each year, participating students are required to choose and research a topic that follows the annual theme. The theme for 2012 is "Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History."
Originally founded by Dr. David Van Tassel, NHD was created as a fun and educational way for students to gather on campus and devote an entire day to history. The first NHD event, held in 1974, consisted of 129 Cleveland high school students.
Participating students have the choice of picking a category, or a specific way to display their research. After students have completed their projects, each school holds its own competition from which a select number from each category (both individual and group) are chosen to continue to the county level. At the county level, students are interviewed and their projects are assessed by judges. When two projects are of equal quality, judges often use the interview as a tie breaker. Projects that win at the county level continue to the state level, and next on to the national level, where the same process continues with undeniably tougher competition. Between each level, students are given the opportunity to improve their projects and prepare them for the more difficult judging.
At Fremont's Hopkins Junior High, Mr. Thomas Birbeck's seventh grade and Mr. Charles Jennings' eighth grade History students participated in NHD this year. "NHD gives students the opportunity to learn history in more exciting ways. Through the students' extensive researches, they can make their own original interpretations of their primary and secondary resources, giving their topic a new perspective," said Mr. Jennings when asked how NHD benefits students and enhances their learning. The importance of NHD is highlighted by the fact that students are getting the chance to research various documents, interview important people, and learn new things every step of the way.
So how did Hopkins Junior High come across National History Day in the first place? Mr. Birbeck takes part in a program called "Words That Made America" which encourages teachers to help their students become familiar with primary information sources. Through this program he was introduced to National History Day, and thought that it would be great for his students to become involved. "I definitely don't regret my decision to get involved, and I am looking forward to participating in National History Day again in future years," said Mr. Birbeck.
To find out more about National History Day, please visit www.nhd.org.
Editor's Note: Apoorva Rajanala is an 8th grade student at Hopkins Junior High in Fremont.