Students in middle and high schools across Missouri competed in National History Day, March 1, at the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom.
National History Day is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, operating an annual project-based contest for students in sixth through 12th grades.
This was part of a regional contest, where the top three in each category advances to the state contest, then to nationals which are being held this summer in Maryland.
Approximately 200 students from St. Joseph, North Nodaway, King City and North Andrew participated in over 10 categories including papers, exhibits, websites, documentaries and performances, focusing on the historical theme of triumph and tragedy.
High school student Angela Gastineau from North Nodaway spoke about the inspirations behind her exhibit.
“As I’m really into the medical field, I decided to incorporate tragedy by using the American Civil Water and spoke about Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross which we still have today,” Gastineau said. “It’s an everlasting triumph in my eyes, so I saw that as a good opportunity to push something that the judges haven’t seen before.”
Around the room, students could see each other’s work and be inspired by how they used the theme in different ways.
Gastineau said she was glad to learn about the importance of National History Day.
“National History Day actually brings out creativity, and you learn in a unique way, rather than sitting in a classroom,” Gastineau said. “By looking at all the other exhibits, it increased my knowledge and allowed me to learn new things.”
Madison Haynes, a social science college senior, was one of the judges for the event.
“I judged the Junior Group Exhibit category, and it was more difficult than I originally anticipated, as the students really impressed me with their projects,” Haynes said. “When judging, we looked for projects that were historically accurate, used a variety of primary and secondary sources, as well as the historical content.”
After judging each category, the judges chose first, second and third place out of all the projects, taking into consideration the time and effort the students put into their projects.
Haynes was impressed by the students’ knowledge about their topics.
“My favorite part was seeing how excited these students were, and how they knew so much about their topics,” Haynes said. “I would have expected upper-level history students to have this amount of knowledge, but they were coming from fifth- to eighth-graders, which was awesome to be a part of.”
Abigail Archdekin from East Buchanan said it was a lot of independent work and using time effectively to complete the exhibits.
“We partially get a semester of school to work on the exhibits, but we don’t get class time, so it’s a lot of work in our own time, as it took me at least five days to finish mine,” Archdekin said.
Haynes said having this opportunity was suitable for her major.
“The event was circled around teachers bringing their students to present about historical topics, and since I want to be a history teacher one day, I would love to take students to an event like this,” Haynes said. “I love history, and it made me happy to see so many young people who also love it.”
The national contest is June 9-13 at the University of Maryland.