After a delay caused by weather issues, National History Day was finally celebrated in Missouri April 20. Two students from Mexico High School entered projects in the competition, under the leadership of American History teacher Clark Winslow.
Katherine Scherry and Cassie Schmidt entered their projects after conducting research on topics related to this year's theme: "Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events." The regional competition was held at the University of Missouri for the Columbia and mid-Missouri area.
"Anything that gets students engaged in primary source research in history is important," Winslow said. "The new Common Core standards link non-fiction reading to student achievement. National History Day is a great way to encourage students to find something historical they are interested in, and then teach them how to use primary and secondary sources to synthesize a product."
Scherry's project was on the influence of fast food, and Schmidt's project centered on Native Americans. "Both topics were strong," Winslow said. "Both issues have had incredible impact on this nation."
National History Day is sponsored by The State Historical Society of Missouri, in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council. The state event is an affiliate of National History Day. Its purpose is to encourage young people to explore history, while teaching them to understand historical issues, people, events, and ideas.
More than 2,600 Missouri students participated in the regional contests, with approximately 600 advancing to the state contest. From these finalists, 60-70 students will advance to the national contest in June at the University of Maryland.
"I think it is imperative to let students know that historical activities can take you places other than just the classroom," Winslow said. "National History Day is a stepping stone to further historical pursuits, and allows students to research what they want to, not just what they are expected to learn. This demonstrates to them that history is not just a bunch of 'dates and dead white guys' and deepens their understanding of the discipline."