The National History Day Competition took place on March 24, 2019 at Southern Connecticut State University. Three students from our school represented us: Kyle Hubbell, Ronald (RJ) Jones, and Kyle Griffith. NHD is a project-based experience in which half a million students across the globe will create either a documentary, an exhibit, a research paper, a live performance, or a website to frame their research within the given historical theme of that year. For 2019, the chosen theme was Triumph and Tragedy in History, which emcompasses any and all types of stories and events like these throughout the world’s history that is older than 20 years ago.
At EHHS this year, there were four opportunities to participate in the National History Day Competition last semester. There was the Honors Freshman Class, the Social Studies Research class, the Global Issues class, and all the sophomore history classes. They provide it in the school’s curriculum because it teaches students certain skills they can’t learn elsewhere. For example, students have to learn how to manage their time effectively, learn how to find credible sources, and learn how to put together a final project that they are proud of.
National History Day wasn’t always in our school and Mr. Joseph Marangell, instructional leader of the social studies department in EHHS in happy it is, “We wanted to include some choice in the curriculum [with the NHD project] because in the past we’ve had research papers and projects, where teachers would tell students what they’d
Photo Credit: Marangell
have to research. But for this project, because there’s only a general theme to research, it's more tailored to what individual students interested are.” He is glad that students can now have a heavily graded project be on something they can actually enjoy doing.
The students from our school who went to the NHD Competition event at SCSU were in for two different categories for the competition. Tyler Griffith is a senior who completed a solo project on Little Rock Nine and won the third place category for an individual senior website. Senior partners Kyle Hubbell and RJ Jones chose to create a website for their project on the topic of baseball integration and won third place for group senior website. All three of these students took the Social Studies Research class, which was taught by Mrs. Lindsay Wright this year. The class was a History Day Capstone class where Wright would go through the different steps of the project with her students. She made sure they were getting their work done, and journaling their experiences throughout the duration of the project.
Wright says, “All the students in the class picked something very different and it was topics that I won’t have necessarily picked. So, I got to learn a lot from them, which was really interesting to me.” It was also her first time teaching this class, and she thought it went well and was a great learning experience for both Wright and her students. She basically taught them all the skills they’d need then facilitated their progress until the end.
Kyle and RJ decided it’d be best to do their project on the topic of baseball integration because of their shared interest in the sport and wanted to learn about how baseball evolved into what it is today. Their project includes both of the aspects of the theme of Triumph and Tragedy, by incorporating tragedy through the indifference that was caused by Jackie Robinson, an African-American man being signed to an MLB team during a time of racism and racial segregation. They also incorporate the theme of triumph through how much more open people were to having other African-American players get signed to play because of how Robinson thrived on the field.
For their project specifically, Kyle and RJ didn’t focus only on Jackie Robinson because they also wanted to see how his actions in breaking the racial barrier in baseball changed the course of history. They looked into the direct impacts Robinson caused, both the good and the bad, like other African-American players getting signed and some racist players causing problems.
Kyle feels that because he had completed History Day projects in the past, that they were the perfect introduction for him to participate in this year’s contest. He said, “This year there was far more work that needed to be done especially with the plan of going to the National History Day Contest.”
In order to gather all of the needed information, the boys looked through newspapers, pictures, and other data that was taken on the leagues and players they focused on. Next, they compiled all their information into something manageable, they then got started on their website. Kyle says, “We split up all the information into different subtopics, this is made it easier so we could simply make pages for the website based on them and easily add the information.” The only step left after this was going to the competition.
Marangell remarks about the competition, “For the final piece of it, if students go to the competition it’s almost like our Capstone presentations because they get with a panel of judges and they have to communicate what their project is all about.”
At the regional competition, they have finalists for every categories, which would mean that every type of project is a category, along with if the person is in a group or not. If the group/person wins, they will receive a medal at Regionals. Going up to State, the top three winners will receive medals and special prizes. The competition at SCSU was a Regional one, and both groups won, so they are going up the States level.
Kyle says, “It felt good after doing all that hard work for the project to finally be able to present ad show what we have worked on for so long.”
The NHD State Competition is on May 4th at Central Connecticut State University. If Kyle, RJ, and Tyler place either first or second place in their respective categories they could move onto the National Contest in Parkland, Maryland.