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In March, IPS made history by gathering enough students districtwide
to create a regional National History Day (NHD)
competition.

 

Based on the need to restructure the “boring memorization and dull
lessons” that he experienced in the history classroom, David Van Tassel created
History Day. Over four decades ago, Van Tassel, history professor of Case
Western Reserve University, had the desire to create a provocative, challenging
and all-around motivational program. The name stuck, but the program expanded
to a yearlong educational experience.

 

“The National History Day (program)
allows students the freedom to choose a topic or time period of interest and
simply explore it,” said Troy Hammon, an educator from Arsenal Technical
High School
.  

 

Jala P., an Arsenal Tech junior, made her second state appearance
after winning the individual performance category with the self-selected topic
of the Tuskegee Airmen.

 

“I researched Charles McGee, the first African-American lieutenant
colonel. His daughter (Charlene McGee) wrote a biography about her father. I
chose to present from her perspective. (In my performance) I talked about being
his daughter, what it was like to grow up and what I learned from my father. It
was a lot of fun,” said Jala.

 

Jala reached the national level in 2015, earning a trip to Washington
D.C. to compete against other students across the United States. She placed 14th
in the nation.

 

Kierstyn R., another Arsenal Tech junior who participated in this
year’s competition, entered the contest for the first time this year and
quickly moved on to the state level.

 

Her topic of choice: musicians Ritchie Valens and Selena. Kierstyn also
performed a brief skit in the competition.

 

“What
makes this program enjoyable to the students is that they can make almost
anything they are interested in into a topic that they can do for NHD,” said Arsenal
Tech educator Tobi Elmore. “Kierstyn loves Selena’s music and we turned that into the
encounter between cultures of Hispanic and African Americans.”

 

“I’m kind of shy,” said Kierstyn. “It was important for me to do
something to get over my fears. I was proud of myself for putting on the
performance, even though I didn’t make it to nationals, because I put myself in
the front and took a step out of my shell.”

 

 

In each district throughout
the state, the top two performers from each junior and senior class are
selected to move on to the state and national level. Participants within the
NHD competition have the option to create an exhibit or act out a brief skit on
a subject of their choosing.

 

Bobbi-Jo B., a Tech senior, placed as a runner up in the group
performance category with a performance about women’s rights. Looking ahead, she
advises future participants to, “Put in the work and ask for help when you need
it. Resources are key.”

 

“The beauty of NHD, and
really all research projects, is the co-learning that occurs between teacher and
student,” said Hammon. “That exchange of ideas and openness to suggestions is
what takes learning back to being fun!”    

 

Nationals
are held June 12-16 at the University of Maryland. IPS students did not advance
in this year’s competition, but many are looking forward to another shot during
the 2016-2017 school year.