National History Day (NHD) is a yearlong educational program sponsored by the New York State Historical Association. It encourages students to explore local, state, national and world history. Students have to select a historical topic that relates to an annual theme, this year the theme is “Rights and Responsibilities.” The students can write a research paper, produce a documentary film, create an exhibit, conduct a performance or create a website.
After extensive research and two-and-a-half months of preparation, the Granville students were ready to go to Albany to compete against other schools in the region.
Granville was the only school in Warren/Washington Counties to have students compete. Out of the twelve students who went, eight placed in their specific categories.
Eighth graders, Kyra Gee, Tim Tennant, Jeremy Amaral, Josh Fiske, Jacob Ladyka, Alex Birchmore and Libby Hicks, were all able to work on their project in Ann O’Brien’s English class and Allison VanGuilder’s History class. While ninth grader, Sophia Scott, did her performance on Civil War soldiers as an extra-circular activity working after school and at home.
“I had a lot of help from my family and teachers,” Sophia said, “I dressed up as my great grandfather and acted out a scene using machinery that they might have used during that time.”
Mara McCarthy, the library media specialist, felt that the competition helps students see that there are other young scholars out there. “This is such a positive experience where students can see other young people choosing to learn, choosing to create, and write and read.”
The hardest part about the competition was that the students had to remember what their final piece was. Kyra Gee, who did her performance on Alice Paul and the Women’s Rights Movement, said “I had to remember which lines I added or took out. Going through so many drafts and trying to remember your lines was really difficult.”
All of the student’s projects were sent in ahead of time and evaluated by professional historians and educators. During the competition, the students had to stand in front of individual judges and answer specific questions about their projects.
First place winners for the junior contest were; Kyra Gee with her performance on Alice Paul and the Women’s Rights Movement, and Alex Birchmore with her research paper on The Children’s Bureau and the Outlawing of Child Labor in the U.S.
Second place winners for the junior contest were; Tim Tennant with his documentary on the Japanese Soldiers. Second place for the senior contest went to Sophia Scott with her performance on the Civil War Soldiers.
Third place winners for the junior contest were; Jeremy Amaral, Josh Fiske and Jacob Vladyka with their website on Pearl Harbor and the US Right to Drop the Atomic Bomb, and Libby Hicks with her paper on 19th Century Women’s Marriage Rights in the US.
Students who place first and second in their categories will be going to the NYS Competition on April 28 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Ann O’Brien thinks that this will not only help them when they get into the high school, but will also help them on the college level, “not only does this contest encourage note taking, but using sites, like Easy Bib, to create their bibliographies helps them become more organized in their note taking as well. “
“We had an exceptional group of student and the project they created qualified on the national scoring rubric,” O’Brien stated, “I think the block schedule helped contribute to the quality of work we saw these students produce. It was very beneficial for them to be able to work on their projects in class.”
The eighth grade students even want to go again next year and compete in the senior division. Most of them wish they had known about it sooner, “I would encourage younger students to do this competition,” Libby Hicks said, “I wish I had known about it sooner.”
“This was a fantastic group of kids,” Allison VanGuilder said, “they were all willing and able, and had such great support from home.”