National History Day: A competition for the ages at Cooperstown CSD

| December 6, 2017
A student reads a microfilm machine

Kate Trosset is reading a magazine article from 1976 on the microfilm machine in preparation for writing a historical research paper.

National History Day is a history based research project competition, which challenges students to research, create, edit and revise, produce a final project, and present to a group of judges.

The long-term inquiry project, done individually, with a group, or as part of a class, teaches students research and presentation skills. The tenacity needed to complete the project over a period of time and continually revise and improve the product benefits them as students and helps develop the life-long skills needed to be successful in any profession.

Students in 7th grade at Cooperstown Junior/Senior High School participate at the local level through their social studies course. John Brotherton, the social studies teacher, and Michelle Hitchcock, the librarian, guide students with their projects based on the NHD annual theme. The students then present to two judges their research project at the conclusion of the unit. Most of these local winners then compete in the regional NHD competition. Winners from the regional competition then move to the state level.

In 2014, Grace LeCates and Ilsa Dohner, as 8th grade students, competed at the national level with their project on the Berlin Wall.

“NHD was an amazing opportunity that provided me with the chance to explore a historical time period that interested me. The project not only helped me improve my understanding of history, but also my creativity and ability to work as a team,” LeCates said. “The critical thinking skills that I learned from NHD have helped me throughout my high school career.”

Cooperstown Jr./Sr. High School Librarian and 2017 New York State History Day Junior Teacher of the Year, Michelle Hitchcock, shared her perspective.

“National History Day is a wonderful learning experience for students. The skills needed to be successful in the competition are the same skills needed to be successful in academics. Research, revise, write, create, and produce are all instrumental to the learning process,” Hitchcock said. ”To win or lose at the competition is also part of life. I highly recommend NHD to students, teachers, and parents.”

David Potter is the Catskill regional coordinator, and Sarah Loveland is the New York History Day Coordinator. This year’s theme is “Conflict and Compromise in History.”

The competition provides an opportunity for students in a class or an individual who wants to explore a historical topic and develop research skills.

For more information, check out the New York History Day website.

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