On their website, National History Day (NHD) describes themselves as a "non-profit education organization in College Park, MD. Established in 1974, NHD offers year-long academic programs that engage over half a million middle-and high-school students around the world annually... in addition to facilitating the discovery of the past, NHD also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success: critical thinking and problem-solving skills, research and reading skills, oral and written communication and presentation skills, self-esteem and confidence, and a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process."
Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History was this year’s History Day theme presented by the Lyceum of Monterey County and Monterey County Office of Education. On March 12th we celebrated the 26th Annual Monterey County History Day at Los Arboles Middle School.
Exhibition set-up began the rainy evening of the 11th, when students and families shipped in rectangular plastic-wrapped exhibits, some as high as 6 feet. They were cautiously displayed in the gymnasium where interviews and the award ceremony would take place the following day.
In preparation for the competition on March 12th, students engaged in extensive research of primary sources in order to present papers, posters, exhibits, performances, documentaries and websites based on the theme. Students from multiple schools had the opportunity to present individually or as a group. It was evident on Saturday the amount of meticulous work and calculated ideas invested throughout the process. The proud students worked endlessly for months on researching the impact and change the historical events had (or, in some cases, will have) on society. The hours spent after school and on weekends was done independently from the parent’s guidance. Some families drove as far as 2 hours away to support their children. Volunteer judges began their observations the previous week to review projects in the Website, Documentary, and Paper Categories, and at 8am on March 12th for Exhibit judging. Saturday was devoted to student interviews where they shared their work with volunteer judges from the community.
Fascinating topics scattered across the campus included: Gay Rights of 1960-2015, Exploring Gender Equity, Exploring Immigration, The Gun that Wont the West and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The students' smiles demonstrated the success of the History Day event; however we were curious to find out more. So, we asked students, "What was your favorite part of the whole process?" Most responded without hesitation. Some mentioned the final result, others the interview itself, and most expressed the satisfaction of accomplishing the deliverable on their own.
"Learning about the culture which I came from, which is Japanese." -Mercy
"Putting it all together after four weeks and seeing the ending result. I cannot wait to come back next year" - Aishah
"It helped us develop teamwork skills, doing research and adding creativity to something we are very passionate about" - Bella & Eva
Congratulations to the winners, finalists, and honorable mentions of this event! County winners (whose names can be found on the History Day section of the Lyceum's website) will proceed to the California state competition.
Thank you to our judges who committed themselves to previous training, further research and dedicated time. Thank you to our amazing sponsors: Chapman Foundation, Harden Foundation, Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Monterey Peninsula Volunteer Services, Nancy buck Ransom Foundation, Pebble Beach Foundation, and Yellow Brick Road. Thank you to the History Day Committee, participating teachers, supportive parents & grandparents, and Los Arboles Middle School for graciously hosting the event.
Special thanks to the community organizations that donated Special Awards to the event, including: Alliance Francaise, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Pac Rep Theater.
Most of all, thank you to the students who competed! It is always refreshing to witness the enthusiasm and dedication among the students each year.