History Day Helps Students

History Day Builds Skills Needed for Academic Success

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Sophomore student Dax Driggs poses next to his National History Day project at the school History Day event. Students compete at the school level for a chance to move forward and compete for a place in the State History Day competition.

Chaarlee Hickman, Staff Writer

Students prepare for an academic competition at Alma High School that educates and inspires students in subjects such as history and science.

With Regional History day right around the corner, students are frantically finishing up their projects. Sidney Hatley, an Alma High School freshman participating in Regional History day, says it is a little stressful (and) it is a lot of work but (History Day) prepares you for the future.

“We have thousands of alumni of the National History Day Contest who have gone on to do some amazing things. We have doctors, lawyers, professors, and more.” said, Gary Pettit,  Director of Communications at the History Day National office.

About 250-300 people participate in History day at Alma High School, according to Toney McMurray, an Alma High School History teacher.

Sidney Hatley’s favorite part of the whole process is the presentation because she can show off her own “stuff”.

McMurray believes that students gain research skills, and the ability to determine if a source is factual by participating in History Day.

“Students who participate in History Day are learning a research skill that is essential for college. Students who chose not to participate in Advanced classes are only hurting themselves when it comes to a college skill set.” said McMurray.

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Students who participate in History Day are learning a research skill that is essential for college. Students who chose not to participate in Advanced classes are only hurting themselves when it comes to a college skill set.”

— Toney McMurray, Alma High School history teacher

“There is a study that was done in 2011 that supported that theory. It compared students from similar areas and backgrounds who did, and did not, participate in the contest. The results confirmed our hypothesis that students who participate in the National History Day Contest do tend to do better in multiple academic subjects than students who do not participate.” Pettit said.

Alma High School has been participating in National History day since 1981. About seven years after the idea started in a University in Ohio.

The National History Day Contest started in 1974 as a small regional contest in northwest Ohio. It was started because Dr. David Van Tassel of Case Western Reserve University in Ohio wanted to promote the study and appreciation of the subject of history among students.” said Pettit.

National History Day made the move from Case Western Reserve University in order to make it housed closer to the nation’s capital. They made the move because it is one of the major history centers of the world. It houses things like the National Archives, and the Smithsonian Institution,

They are also affiliated with the University of Maryland, and, as a result, their office being just off of their campus. They still maintain an excellent relationship with Case Western Reserve.

If you aren’t into history or science there is actually an American Mathematics Competition, Mathematical Olympiad, Spelling bee, and writing competitions, Pettit explained.