Every year, Basha High School teacher Julienne Collums requires students in her Advanced Placement history class to participate in the National History Day competition at the state level as part of the course’s requirements. Each year, nearly every student advances to the national level.
This year was no different.
Eight of her 11 students — the state’s largest group from one school — will travel to the University of Maryland in June to compete against more than 2,000 other students from the United States. Prizes include scholarships and up to $100 in cash. They have to raise about $7,000 to attend the competition.
National History Day entry areas include documentaries, historical papers and exhibits. Each team is judged on creativity, originality, poise and how well its members stuck with the theme. This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History.”
Shirley Nguyen’s team performed a historical documentary focusing on James Meredith, the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi. Contest rules require teams to use “primary sources,” which means they couldn’t use anything Meredith said unless he said it directly to them.
So they tracked him down and talked with him.
The winning documentary at the national competition will be aired on The History Channel, a major sponsor of the contest.
Students in the class said participating in the project stretched their academic abilities.
“It opens up your eyes to an entirely different level,” 16-year-old Mingda Sun said. “I didn’t know anything about history” when he started the class, he said. The class also said they gained research skills along the way as well.
“You can’t just Google it,” Sun said of information for the project. Students dug through archives and old newspapers. Collums said she’s very proud of her students for their dedication.
“It’s an amazing process and every year I’m grateful for students who are willing to step up to the plate and take risks,” Collums said. “My satisfaction comes from how satisfied they are with what they’ve done,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Jessica Flion said she gained more perspective about the importance of learning history after preparing for the contest. “It makes you value events that are happening today. Right now we are living in history and history is reoccurring,” the 16-year-old said.
How: For every purchase made from May 7-13 at Barnes and Noble, 3807 S. Gilbert Road, customers can ask to donate a portion to Basha High School
Checks: Checks can be made payable to Basha High School for the National History Day Club. All donations are tax deductible
Info: Call (480) 224-2100