U-32 Sends Seven to DC for NHD

This article is written by a journalism student, Alicen LaPerle


National History Day


For the first time, U-32 students are going as a group to Washington DC to compete in the National History Day (NHD) competition. The competition is held annually in June at the University of Maryland Campus 30 minutes outside the heart of Washington DC. Each year U-32’s Humanities students make their own NHD project in the second semester of the school year.


NHD is a state and national-level competition where students can submit and present their research. There are five ways students can do this; documentary, exhibit, paper, presentation, or website.


Studying the past to inform the present and shape the future,” is the first thing seen when visiting the National History Day Website.  “NHD reaches more than half a million students and tens of thousands of teachers each year via its international student history contest.”


According to the NHD website, students learn many skills throughout the project. These include, how to do research in an efficient and informed way, communication, and presentation skills as well as historical thinking.


There has been a recent decline in student test scores in historical and social studies classes according to The New York Times.  This makes programs like NHD more valued by teachers. Students are able to choose almost any topic that they are interested in that fits the requirements for the project.


Vermont History Day Competition and Preparation


Anyone can submit a project to the Vermont History Day competition held at The University of Vermont, this year it took place on Saturday, April 8th. The judging days are divided into senior and junior competitions. Juniors are in middle school and seniors are in high school.


Colby Tuller, a 9th grader at U-23 submitted an exhibit he made on his own with the guidance of the Humanities teachers. Although he was not in a Humanities class he used resources to help him submit a project. He went to The Vermont History Day competition and won The Freedom and Unity Prize. He earned a cash reward. 


Maia Pasco and Sophie Martel were two of the 18 U-32 students who went to the state competition.


Of the 18 students who went to UVM 13 won awards and 7 qualified for the national competition in DC, according to the U-32 Newsletter (see the end of the article for a full list).


Maia and Sophie together researched Mathew Shepard. He was murdered in the 1990s in Washington, Oregon because he was gay. Their final project included ways this event impacted laws affecting the LGBTQ+ community. 


The NHD project can take you places you may not expect. Maia and Sophie interviewed the mother of Mathew Shepard as part of their research. That was one of,” the best part[s] of our project,” said Maia.“[it] definitely gave us more of an advantage in the competition,” said Maia.


Maia offers advice to anyone who will have the NHD project soon. “It’s also super important to make sure you pick a topic you actually really do care about because you spend a lot of time on it…I’d say it’s easier if you pick a very broad topic. Our topic had a lot of different ways that we could have gone in so you had a lot of information.“ 


“The judging process takes a long time,” said Ari Chapin, a sophomore here at U-32. Ari went to the Vermont History Day competition at UVM. His project was titled: Integration of Chinese Acupuncture into US Medicine. 


He had challenges researching this topic because it is not native to the United States or in a primarily white society. Ari said, “It’s sort of hard to get in-depth information on minority topics.”


Judging day at UVM can be long said Ari, “we were just in Burlington for several hours.” During that time U-32 students were able to go to Church Street and get lunch and bond as a class. 


The competition is challenging but, “all the judges are really nice. They’re really interested in history and talk to you and are interested in the topic you did,” said Ari.


After the judging at UVM, whoever gets the top two spots in each category can go to Washington DC, and compete. Ari did well at the UVM competition and is advancing to Nationals in DC.


You’re put in a room with a bunch of other presentations, which is pretty intimidating,” said Maia. ”Then you’re interviewed for 15 minutes by three judges. And they asked questions about your poster and you’d have to answer on the spot, which is very stressful”


Maia said,” They [the judges] gave us tips and [said] what we did well, and what we should work on from the judging.” A highlight for Maia and Sophie was getting to see the many other projects and their similarities and differences to U-32.


Maia Pasco left, and Habib Meiloud, right, poses for a photo with the Lake Champlain Chocolates Bunny while exploring Church Street. Photo by Calister Boyd


“There was a really positive experience of people going,” said Kara Rosenberg.


National History Day Competition


Seven U-32 students, Elly Budliger, Ari Chapin, Josie Haley, Sophie Martel, Habib Meiloud, Annabelle Morland, and Maia Pasco are headed to Washington DC on June 12. U-32 is covering all major expenses such as transportation, registration, meals, and lodging while in DC. 


There are social events taking place before the national competition including a dance for the competitors. Unfortunately, the U-32 students won’t be able to attend because of their travel schedules. They will be taking a 10-hour train into DC and arriving on day two of the competition. The competition runs from Monday, 6/12 to Thursday, 6/15.


The May 5 U-32 Newsletter notes that Kara Rosenberg was nominated for National History Day Teacher of The Year. This award is given to a teacher who shows creative and engaging teaching strategies as well as a commitment to critical thinking skills, innovative teaching, and good use of primary sources. The NHD website states that the winner will receive a $10,000 grand prize and each nominee will receive $500.


The winner will be announced Thursday, June 15, 2023, at the National History Day National Contest Awards ceremony.


U-32 students pose for a picture after a long day of competition. Photo By Kara Rosenberg


List of winners from UVM


Senior Historical Papers

1st place: Josie Haley for “Rachel Carson: The Frontier of Chemical Regulations” (qualifies for National History Day)

2nd place: Cole Saunders for “Father of Fire” (qualifies for National History Day)

3rd place: Edith Lane for “Fish Fears, Films, Frenzy”

Senior Individual Websites

1st place: Ari Chapin for “Integration of Chinese Acupuncture into US Medicine” (qualifies for National History Day)

3rd place: Maddie Beaudoin for “Henrietta Lacks”

Senior Individual Documentaries

1st place: Elly Budliger for “Maria Tallchief: Crossing New Frontiers in the Ballet World and Pushing for Change” (qualifies for National History Day)

3rd place: Cal Boyd for “How Watchmen Changed Literature”

Senior Individual Exhibits

1st place: Habiboullah Ould Meiloud for “The Congress of Vienna” (qualifies for National History Day)

2nd place: Angus Whitman for “Thomas Newcomen and His Steam Engine” (qualifies for National History Day)

3rd place: Annabelle Morland for “The Forgotten Children: The Story of the Chinchorro Mummies”

Senior Group Exhibits

2nd place: Sophie Martel and Maia Pasco for “Matthew Shephard” (qualifies for National History Day)

The International Studies Prize (with a cash award)

Cal Boyd for his documentary “How Watchmen Changed Literature”

The Freedom and Unity Prize (with a cash award)

Colby Tuller for his exhibit “The Saint Albans Raid and US Frontier Cavalry”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.