Plymouth State University to Host National History Day in New Hampshire

January 31st, 2006 by Adam

PLYMOUTH, N.H. – On Saturday, April 8, New Hampshire students in grades 6 – 12 will show off their mastery of history at Plymouth State University as the campus hosts the 2006 New Hampshire state competition in the National History Day (NHD) program. NHD is a yearlong educational program in which middle and high school students celebrate their skills as historians while being exposed to the processes, sources and complexities of historical research. Each spring New Hampshire students are chosen by their schools to demonstrate the product of their hard work producing video documentaries, theatrical performances, papers and museum-style exhibits. Plymouth State University is the sponsor of National History Day in New Hampshire (NHDNH).

Working as individuals or in groups, students choose a topic relating to a nationally established annual theme, which this year is Taking a Stand in History: People, Ideas, Events. They do the work of real historians as they investigate their topic, develop a thesis, and interpret primary and secondary sources, all which must relate to the national theme. Rather than study dusty dates and faceless names, students actively bring history to life in meaningful ways. The best projects, as judged by a panel of professional historians and educators, will be selected to represent the state of New Hampshire this summer at the five-day-long national competition at the University of Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C.

Supported by Plymouth State University and other statewide educational organizations, NHDNH is growing across the Granite State. Said Professor Patrick May, “We are really pleased to see that for the first time schools in the North Country and in the Seacoast area are participating.” May co-coordinates the program with his colleague at PSU, John Krueckeberg. May went on to note that growth in New Hampshire participation represents the larger trend in the country, where nationwide over 700,000 middle and high school students take part each year.

Krueckeberg noted that the program also is gaining recognition for its rigor, as it is endorsed by such professional groups as the Organization of American Historians, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Council for History Education and the National Council for the Social Studies.
“What you see happening,” said Krueckeberg, “is the legitimization of active learning. It is a win-win situation as student learn, but also enjoy it. How many times have I heard ‘Oh, history was boring for me in school’ from parents who are amazed at how much their children ‘love history now!’”

May added that the state of Washington has approved the NHD program as a model for assessing student achievement of the state’s social studies standards. “We feel that as a state university it is part of our mission to serve New Hampshire by giving its citizens the same opportunities at successful, high-quality secondary education programs embraced by other states.”

Interested students should contact their teacher or school to see if the program is already adopted in their area. The deadline for applications for the New Hampshire NHD competition is Monday, March 19. New Hampshire NHD state coordinators are Professors Patrick May and John Krueckeberg, both of Plymouth State University’s social science department. For further information on the event e-mail nhdnh@plymouth.edu or pmay@plymouth.edu.