Each year, hundreds of students from across the region participate in National History Day (NHD) at Messiah College… like science fair for History!  For the past three years, 8th grade history students at the Academy have participated as a requirement and 6th and 7th grade students could earn extra credit for entering.

The students begin by selecting a topic of interest to them and then choose the best way to present their information – paper, performance, exhibit, documentary or website.  By allowing them to choose their topic and presentation method, students are more likely to be passionate about the project.  This is important because the next step is getting into the research (insert foreboding, “Jaws” theme music here).  With help from the MS/US librarian, we educate the students on the importance of finding reliable sources, identifying primary and secondary sources, and identifying multiple types of sources.  It is important for NHD to show a depth and breadth of knowledge.

The final step in the process is to take their research and turn it into a project.  The true benefit of this project, in my opinion, is the opportunity to present and defend their work in front of college professors, graduate students, and respected members of the web community.  How often can students in middle school say that they’ve presented in front of such a distinguished group?  This process makes them realize that they need to truly understand their topic, and research methods, and forces them to think quickly on their feet – which will serve them well as they move on to the Upper School and college.

The 2016 theme was Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in History.  While everyone is a winner in my book, we did have some students make it past the first round.  In the Junior Division, Group Documentary, Kate ’20 and Emilee ’20, placed in the top six with their video about the 19th Amendment and the Suffragettes.  Also in the Junior Division, Group Documentary category, Orion ’20, John ’20, and Michael ’20, earned 3rd place for their piece on the Space Race!

While it has been nearly six months since our students competed in the regional competition (on Saturday, Feb. 27 at Messiah College), I am still so proud of our students last year and hopeful to see what this coming year’s students will do.  Save the Date for 2017!  The regional competition is scheduled for March 4, 2017 at Messiah College, with a theme of “Taking a Stand in History.”  Students in 5th through 12th grade may enter.  The Junior Division is for students in 5th through 8th grade, and the Senior Division is for students in 9th through 12th grade.  Please consider coming out to cheer the students on next year and to see all of the amazing projects from around the area.  You are guaranteed to learn something new!