NHD Dreams

Miranda Cain and Johanna Guerrero

This year, many Advanced Technologies Academy students will be participating in National History Day (NHD), a national competition created in 1980 by Kenneth E. Behring challenging students to research and present a topic pertaining to history.

“It’s the highest expression about what historians do,” said U.S history teacher, Mr. Hinton.

Every year, the competition centers around a theme which the students must focus their topic around. This year’s theme is Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange.

“This year’s theme seems more difficult than last year’s but I’m excited to get started,” says last year’s state finalist, junior Willow Layland.

A majority of the students who participate in NHD do it for a history class and receive a grade for it.

“I’m doing NHD because it challenges me and other students, and we learn more about our nation’s history,” said junior Patricia De La Hoya.

Coming from a mostly technology-focused school, this competition offers a rare chance for students to flex their history muscles. “There’s not that many history-related projects. There’s science competitions, and ones for robotics, but NHD is the only history-related competition there is,” said Ms. Pankonen.

After four Atech students last year won the state competition and went to the national competition, this year’s students are more motivated to compete.

“It gives students a chance to research a topic they’re interested in and may learn some new information they can use on the AP test,” said Ms. Pankonen. She also sees the competition as a way to further expose students to historical texts.

Teachers like Ms. Pankonen, who does the project with her AP World History and AP European History classes, have bigger ambitions.

Hopefully more A-TECH students will win this year. Maybe we’ll do a sweep”

— Ms.Pankonen

Rather than just doing it for a grade, students can’t wait to compete.

“I hope the students gain an appreciation for their topic,” said AP and honors U.S. History teacher Ms.Woods.

Similarly, teachers say they too have learned from the project as well. Mr. Hinton remarked that he learned “less is more” when doing this project, letting students fail or succeed on their own.

Due dates vary from teacher to teacher; Mr. Hinton’s final due date being February 5, Ms. Woods’ being February 12, and Ms. Pankonen’s due before winter break. The competition itself takes place April 9.

NHD is a project that as Mr. Hinton says “gives the students a voice and a choice.”