BIRMINGHAM / JUNE 7, 2023 — This month, 27 Alabama students and educators will travel to Maryland and Washington, D.C., to compete at National History Day. The NHD competition, set for June 11-15, enables students in grades 6-12 to conduct high-level research on a topic of their choice and present their studies in creative ways. The presentations include papers, exhibits, performances, documentaries, or websites. NHD winners can qualify for scholarships and some may even have their work displayed at the Smithsonian.
Who are these students representing Alabama in our nation’s capital?
Back in March, nearly 200 students from across Alabama gathered at Auburn University in Montgomery to compete in Alabama History Day, the statewide contest organized by the Alabama Humanities Alliance. More than 40 participating students won first- or second-place honors in their category to qualify for National History Day.
More than a single day, AHA’s History Day program offers year-long benefits. The program provides teachers with a dynamic project-based learning tool that can be built into their history curriculum. Teachers can also attend ongoing History Day training workshops and students can join in summer enrichment opportunities.
Even in the height of the pandemic, Alabama History Day still provided space for young scholars to develop. In 2022, 28 students won awards in a virtual statewide contest. In 2023, that number increased to 63 students who were awarded first, second, or third place. AHA’s History Day continues to set the stage for youth to grow beyond their current understanding of themselves and the world around them.
“Research helps you better connect to the world and your community,” says Idrissa Snider, Ph.D., program coordinator for Alabama History Day. “And it helps you learn more about yourself. When our students have these ‘aha moments,’ they’re building their confidence as learners, too.”
Indeed, History Day gives students preparation academically and interpersonally so that they can thrive as students, and eventually as professionals. “Whether a child wants to be a rocket scientist, teacher, or truck driver, they have to sit down and interview,” Snider says. “They must look confidently in the eyes of someone else and speak. The sooner kids start being able to speak in front of others, they become more prepared for the real world.”
For some students, National History Day marks the first time they’ll travel beyond their hometowns and earn recognition for their work. And several have already scored big honors in the nation’s capital:
- Ddwayne Lockett-James, a junior at Murphy High School in Mobile, will have his documentary, How Did Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company Help Shape the Future of Mobile, Alabama?, screened as part of a world premiere at the Oprah Winfrey Theater at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- Zamorie Gipson, ZoRiyah Ray, and Sha’Hollene Smith, seniors at Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, will have their exhibit, “Little Rock Nine: Frontier in History,” featured in a live showcase at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on Flag Day, June 14, 2023.
“History Day illustrates how important it is to have young people from around the state, from all types of backgrounds, coming together in a space and putting their unique interests out there,” Sniders says. “We can learn to have different opinions, outlets, perspectives, or whatever the case may be. And we can respect others’ opinions and thoughts.”
Learn more about the impact of Alabama History Day by viewing our film Welcome to History Day. If you or someone you know would like to bring AHD to your school contact Idrissa N. Snider, Ph.D., at [email protected].