Students from the social science research class at Jericho High School will be participating in National History Day this year, a competition in which students research a particular topic and share their findings through different forms of media.
National History Day is a worldwide competition with more than 500,000 middle school and high school students displaying their research in any of the following forms: paper, exhibit, performance, documentary or website. The research must be based on a predetermined theme, this year’s being “Taking a Stand in History.” First, students compete at the regional level, followed by states and then nationally at the University of Maryland at College Park. Participants must abide by the rules listed in the official rule-book, which states specific regulations, such as word limits and dimension restrictions. Students can either work individually or in groups of up to five people.
This classroom, which was formerly used as the faculty cafeteria, has been transformed into a computer lab for middle school students to work on their projects for the National History Day competition.
Social science research teacher Mr. Scarnati has had students participate for 20 years and said he values the competition because “it’s a great experience for students.” He added, “It’s a great experience for me. I’ve learned from the projects that my students have done.” He also believes that the students can learn from each other, since they will present during class in front of one another before bringing their projects to Hofstra University for the regional competition. Participating in National History Day is also beneficial because it helps students improve in areas such as communication skills, work habits and evaluating information online. Mr. Scarnati said, “Students learn how to research a topic extensively, develop writing skills, and very importantly, communication skills. You get to become an expert on a topic. You gain confidence in your academic abilities as you speak to the judges about the project that you did.”
Sophomore Varsha B., who participated in the competition in both seventh- and eighth-grade, will be competing again this year. In regards to the benefits, she said, “You learn how to cite sources, learn how to really research a certain topic in depth, and I learned a lot about iMovie on a Mac because I made a documentary using this program.” Similarly, sophomore Hannah K. said, “One of the benefits is that it helps someone learn how to research something in great detail.”
There is a lot of hard work that goes into creating a promising project, no matter which category you enter. In reference to the amount of work that goes into National History Day, Scarnati said, “It’s a very heavy load. That’s why you are given a significant amount of time to do it. It’s a lot to do in the time frame that you have.”
Hannah K. added, “The workload for History Day is pretty big, but if you plan your time right, it won’t seem like as much work.” Varsha B. feels that when she was in middle school, there was a lot of work but also feels as though teachers were helpful in her success. She said, “My teacher, Mrs. Travis, helped me with a lot of it. A big portion of the workload was creating my skit for what to say in the documentary.”
This year’s regional competition took place on March 19 at Hofstra University. Congratulations to award winners Nicole O. and Jaclyn P. who won third place for their senior group documentary. A number of studefnts also received special awards. Alexandra M. won Best Use of Archives and Best Project for her work about a citizen activist, and Nolani K.W. and Catherine S. worked together on a team that won Best Project about women’s suffrage.
By Maya Masheb