After months of intensive research and successes at local and district level competitions, 250 students from all parts of Tennessee will present their projects at the annual Tennessee History Day competition, which will be held in downtown Nashville Saturday.
In the competition, middle and high school students create projects related to historical themes. The projects may be exhibits, documentaries, websites, performances or research papers.
The students whose projects are judged best in Saturday's competition will be eligible to participate in National History Day, which will be held in College Park, Maryland from June 12 through June 16. There, they can compete for national awards and scholarships.
“This stellar group of students advanced from more than 7,000 sixth- through 12th-graders who participated in History Day this year,” said Ann Toplovich, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Society. “The students, along with their teachers and families, can already take pride. Their thorough research, critical thinking skills and high quality projects will make judging tough for the next round of winners at the state contest.”
Nationwide, the program annually engages more than a half million students in grades six through 12 from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa and Department of Defense Schools. Each fall, students and teachers nationwide begin work on the year-long curriculum, which starts with competitions held in individual schools.
The winners advance to district competitions. In Tennessee, those district competitions take place in Knoxville (sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society), Greeneville (sponsored by Tusculum College), Clarksville (sponsored by Austin Peay State University), Murfreesboro (sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University) and Memphis (sponsored by the University of Memphis).
The district winners qualified for Saturday's event, which will be held at several buildings in downtown Nashville. Tennessee History Day is sponsored by the nonprofit Tennessee Historical Society, thanks to grant support from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office and Humanities Tennessee.
"History Day presents wonderful opportunities for students to develop important skills that will serve them well not only in school, but throughout their lives," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I've had the pleasure of meeting a number of History Day participants through the years and I've come away inspired by the hope they represent for our future. They may be documenting history now, but it won't be long before some of them will be making history."
Tennessee History Day allows participating students to learn by researching their own topics using primary source documents. Each year's topics must be based on a specific theme. This year’s theme is Exploration, Encounter and Exchange. While all projects must relate to the theme, students are encouraged to use their creativity.