Fifty students from nine South Dakota school districts recently competed in the National History Day Contest, held in College Park, Maryland, June 10-15. The students who participated in the national contest were the top entries from the state contest held April 5 at South Dakota State University in Brookings.
The 2023 contest theme was “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.” Participants joined more than half a million students globally who completed projects in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website. In 2023, South Dakota advanced six documentaries, seven exhibits, three papers, seven performances and seven websites.
This year, South Dakota students received the following awards and honors:
• Sam Newitt from Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls placed fourth overall with his individual documentary, “A New Frontier for Computer Science: The Morris Worm and the Growth of Cybersecurity.” It was also awarded the Senior Outstanding Affiliate Award for South Dakota.
• Norah Ness from Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls placed 10th overall with her individual exhibit, “Women’s Baseball During WWII as a Frontier for Equality.”
• Sloan Thompson and Sylvia Turbiville from Harding County Middle School in Buffalo were awarded the Junior Outstanding Affiliate Award for South Dakota. Their group exhibit was “The Evolution of the Telescope: Opening the Frontier of Space.”
• Ethan Johnson, Max Mazela, Abilene McGuire, Chance Smith and Lane Stuwe from Hoven High School showcased their senior group exhibit, “How Barbed Wire Tamed the Wild West,” in the National History Day Exhibit Showcase at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which highlights an exhibit from each state.
• Sara Newitt from Memorial Middle School in Sioux Falls showcased her junior individual documentary, “Ruby Bridges: How One 6-Year-Old Became a Frontier in History,” at the National History Day Documentary Showcase at Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Only 17 documentaries related to African American history from across the country were chosen for this showcase.
After completing a project, students compete in a series of contests beginning at the local level. The top students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., U.S. territories and international schools are invited to compete in the national contest.
“Nearly half a million students competed in National History Day this year at the local and affiliate levels, so to make it to the national contest is a remarkable achievement,” said NHD Executive Director Cathy Gorn. “These students spent months researching primary and secondary sources, analyzing their topic’s significance in history and communicating their ideas in creative formats, and they were guided by gifted history teachers. The academic success of these students is the answer to the dismal results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress report on history and civics that was released in May.”
More than 400 historians and education professionals served as judges for the students’ work. Scholarships totaling $150,000 were awarded at the national awards ceremony, and more than 100 students took home cash prizes between $250 and $1,000 for superior work in a particular category of judging.
About National History Day: NHD is a nonprofit organization based in College Park, Maryland, which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the national contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD is sponsored in part by National Endowment for the Humanities, World Education Foundation, Patricia Behring Foundation, 400 Years of African American History Commission, History Channel, Pritzker Military Foundation, The Better Angels Society, National Park Service, Dr. Scholl Foundation, History NET, Doughboy Foundation, Tom Lauer and Skehan Communications. For more information, visit the National History Day website.
About the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum and National History Day in South Dakota: The South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum’s mission is to inspire a passion for the diverse history, culture and science of agriculture in South Dakota. It is the official state museum for preserving the history of agriculture and rural life of South Dakota and a department of South Dakota State University. It is also the state coordinator for National History Day in South Dakota. It is located in the historic Stock Judging Pavilion on the SDSU campus at 977 11th St., Brookings. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. For more information, call 605-688-6226 or visit the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum website or the National History Day in South Dakota website.
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