Alabama students, teacher have strong showing in National History Day Contest

Alabama students, teacher have strong showing in National History Day Contest
The 2020 National History Day contest theme was Breaking Barriers in History. (Getty Images)

Alabama History Day representatives made their presence known in the 2020 National History Day Contest with winners emerging on the student and teacher levels.

Following an  intensive competition among middle and high school students from across the nation, Alabama participants had a strong showing in the virtual awards ceremony that was held Saturday.

Eli Stapler of Hampton Cove Middle School near Huntsville won the History in the Federal Government Special Prize for his exhibit project, “CCC: Roosevelt’s Tree Army.” The prize is awarded to the best entry in any category, in either division, which illuminates the history of the American federal government.

Savi Fistein and Aiden Seabrook of Phillips Preparatory Middle School in Mobile won the distinction of Outstanding Alabama Junior Entry. Savi and Aiden’s group performance, “Raven Wilkinson: The Black Ballerina Who Broke Ballet Barriers by Braving the Jim Crow South during the Civil Rights Movement and Inspiring Others,” was the highest ranked Alabama junior project at the national contest.

Joy Kim of Huntsville High School earned the distinction of Outstanding Alabama Senior Entry for the contest. Her paper, “Foot Soldiers for Freedom: The Little Rock Nine and the Youth of the Civil Rights Movement,” was the highest ranked Alabama senior project at the national contest.

Alabama students weren’t the only standouts during the contest. Sarah Woltring of Murphy High School in Mobile was a finalist for the Hannah E. (Liz) MacGregor Teacher of the Year award.

“This teacher and these students exemplify the magic of National History Day,” said Alabama History Day Coordinator Jerald Crook. “They truly embodied this past year’s NHD theme, which was Breaking Barriers in History.” This year’s contest was historic, going virtual on the state and national levels.

“It wasn’t easy working through the challenges of this year’s NHD contest season because of the coronavirus pandemic,” Crook noted. “They had to navigate technological obstacles to participate in new virtual contests, and they missed the opportunity to travel to Montgomery and Washington, D.C. for the state and national competitions, but they endured, put in hard work, and it all paid off in the end. I am so proud of our Alabama NHD winners and all who represented the state on the national level.”

National History Day promotes the teaching and learning of history through a variety of programs for teachers and students in middle and high schools. Its largest program is the National History Day Contest, which was created in 1974 to encourage middle and high school students from around the world to conduct original research on historical topics of interest. They then present projects at the local and affiliate levels.

“With the NHD2020 contest coming to a close, Alabama students and teachers are already preparing for next year’s contest, which will explore the national theme of Communication in History: The Key to Understanding,” Crook said.

Alabama teachers who are interested in getting their students involved in the National History Day program are invited to attend one of the upcoming AHD training webinars on July 8 or July 15. Visit the Alabama History Day Educator’s page on the Alabama Humanities Foundation website to learn more and register.

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