Kutztown students win first in nation at History Day

Submitted by Joyce Burch Kutztown winners at the National History Day Awards Ceremony June 13 at the University of Maryland, left to right front: Abbie Boyer, Emily Burch, Tyler Pensyl, Meredith Ache, and Alexander Lanyi; back: Emily Reiss, Jeff Hawks (Pennsylvania state National History Day coordinator), Spencer Miller, and Trinity Hamm.

Kutztown students won first in the nation at the National History Day competition on June 13.

Kutztown Area Middle School students Tyler Pensyl, Emily Burch, Abbie Boyer and Meredith Ache won for first place for their exhibit on “The Idea of a Conquerable West: The Maps of Lewis and Clark As a Turning Point in Westward Expansion.”

Also, Kutztown Area High School students Trinity Hamm, Spencer Miller and Emily Reissalso won first place for their project “Adding More Oil to the AntiWar Fire”: The Impact of the Tet Offensive Within and Beyond the Vietnam War.”

More than 8,000 students, teachers and National History Day advocates from all fifty states, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, China, South Korea, and Indonesia gathered Thursday, June 13, at the University of Maryland to celebrate the winners of the prestigious NHD competition.

NHD, which was honored with the National Humanities Medal in 2012 by President Barack Obama, is designed to ensure students have a firm grasp of the past and the critical thinking skills necessary to be tomorrow’s leaders. This year’s NHD challenge was built on the theme, “Turning Points in History—People, Ideas and Events.”

“These students’ creativity and passion are a true inspiration,” said Cathy Gorn, executive director of NHD. “The quality and depth of this year’s NHD submissions proves that there is no limit to what our students can achieve once their critical-thinking skills have been challenged. These projects were not only remarkable, but ground-breaking.”

In addition to Kutztown, First Prize Middle School and High School winners included students from California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Washington and Wyomming.

In addition to earning national recognition for their exceptional works, NHD Contest winners and finalists each received a share of more than $250,000 in scholarships.

More than 2,873 students – a record high – participated in this year’s five day competition, which engages more than half a million students across the nation each year. Students research history topics chosen from the annual theme and create exhibits, documentaries, performances, and papers, which they may enter in competitions at the district, state, and national levels.

An independent evaluation of the effectiveness of National History Day has shown that students who participate in the competition perform better on high-stakes tests, are better writers, more confident and capable researchers, and have a more mature perspective on current events and civic engagement than their peers. Sponsors of this year’s National History Day include the History Channel, Weider History Group, WEM Foundation, Kenneth E. Behring, Patricia Behring, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service and Southwest Airlines.

Launched in 1974, National History Dayis a year-long academic organization for middle and high school students. Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, affiliate and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in a national competition each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.

For more information about National History Day and this year’s winners, visit: www.nhd.org.

Release provided by National History Day. Look for full feature in an upcoming issue.

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