LaGrange College to host National History Day competition

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Georgia middle and high school students participating in this month’s National History Day state contest plan to spotlight key people and moments that have made an impact on our country and world.

The state event, which takes place on Saturday, April 20, will be the third time the college serves as the location for National History Day, an organization celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“This milestone is an incredible achievement,” said LaGrange College History Professor and National History Day Georgia Co-Affiliate Coordinator Dr. Kevin Shirley. “Born out of Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University history department that was concerned about the decline in the study of humanities, NHD became a global phenomenon in which students stake a claim of ownership in their learning and become historians—engaging in the same process professional historians use to find answers to their questions.”

NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn, who has been involved with the nationwide program for 42 years, said she finds fulfillment every day in her work.

“To be part of a program that is helping future generations become thoughtful citizens is quite profound,” she said. “NHD continues to help young people make sense of the present by understanding the past in order to be part of the future.”

The competition has provided LaGrange College with a platform to reach more students.

“NHD is a living expression of the college’s commitment to service and transformation—in many ways projecting the priorities and values articulated in the college’s mission statement outward—across the state and the region,” Dr. Shirley said.

LaGrange College senior Hayleigh Sebaugh, who serves as an intern for NHD GA, said this role has given her opportunities to mentor competitors, build connections and even travel to the national contest in Washington, D.C.

“This has been a valuable learning experience,” she said. “As National History Day celebrates its 50th anniversary, I am incredibly grateful to be a part of it.”

This year’s state contest will have 450 students and 257 projects. A total of 130 volunteers will be needed to serve as judges.

Competitors, working either individually or in a group, will present their projects through one of five media: Historical Paper, Exhibit, Performance, Documentary or Website. This year’s theme is “Turning Points in History.”

Judges from each category advance the top two state entries to the national contest that will be held June 9-13 at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Since 2014, LaGrange College has served as the state co-sponsor of National History Day with Georgia Humanities.

Dr. Shelly Lowe, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, said NHD has enriched the lives of countless students over the course of its existence.

“For 50 years, National History Day has inspired young people with curiosity about the past and given them the tools to conduct their own historical research,” she said. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is extremely proud to have played a role in National History Day’s growth from a small pilot project into a national program that reaches more than half a million students and tens of thousands of teachers each year.”

People interested in serving as a volunteer judge for the state contest can register on the NHD GA website.