UAM News

Junior High Students Compete in History Contest at UAM

First place winners in the Group Exhibit, (left to right) Ava McDermott, Riley Hooks, Kennedy Ponder and Katherine Johnson

Second place winners in the Group Exhibit, (left to right) Jena Samuels and Fariha Snow, pictured with Dr. Clinton Young, dean of SSBS at UAM

Third place winners in the Group Exhibit, (left to right) Kamiya Smith, Sha’Kyriah Henderson and Khylee Walker, pictured with Dr. Clinton Young, dean of SSBS at UAM

First place winner in Essay: Abigail Mack, pictured with Dr. Clinton Young, dean of SSBS at UAM

MONTICELLO, Ark. — Several regional junior high school students competing in the National History Day Contest have advanced to the statewide contest in April, with the chance to advance to the national contest in June.

Twenty-three students from Stuttgart Junior High School Arkansas History classes participated in the Arkansas Region 4 contest on March 8 at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM). The students competed in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance and website. The participants are students of William Washburn and Virginia Cagle.

Ava McDermott, Riley Hooks, Kennedy Ponder and Katherine Johnson took first place in Group Exhibit.

Jena Samuels and Fariha Snow took second place in Group Exhibit.

Kamiya Smith, Sha’Kyriah Henderson and Khylee Walker took third place in Group Exhibit.

Abigail Mack earned first place in the essay contest.

Now in its 50th year, the National History Day Contest provides students an opportunity to develop critical thinking and source analysis skills while gaining historical perspective. Participants spend months researching a topic of their choice before presenting their work to be judged. Guided by an annual theme, students are encouraged to choose a topic that matches their personal interests. The 2024 theme is “Turning Points in History.”

Students enter their projects in regional contests, with top entries advancing to state contests. The Arkansas state contest will be held at the University of Central Arkansas on April 6. The top two entries from every category at the state competition will be invited to the national contest held in June at the University of Maryland at College Park.

William Washburn, a teacher at Stuttgart Junior High School, affirms the value of the project, stating, “National History Day offers students an opportunity outside of the curriculum to develop their skills of historical inquiry, research and argumentation. It is a joy to witness young minds push their critical thinking skills as they deepen their knowledge of areas of history about which they are passionate. National History Day, and its team in Arkansas, are helping to ignite in students a love of learning that will last them a lifetime, and I am incredibly grateful to get to be a part of bringing that to my students at Stuttgart Junior High School.”

Dr. Clinton Young, dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UAM, noted, “It’s wonderful to have History Day back on the UAM campus. History Day not only gives students a hands-on way to appreciate the past, but it also builds valuable skills students will use in college and in the workforce—how to research, how to communicate, how to present information succinctly. And it is a thrill to see students get excited about the past!”

An independent study on the impact of the National History Day Contest found that students who participate outperform their counterparts in all levels of academia, including standardized tests. Participants also expressed greater confidence in their research, communication and analytical skills. More information on this study is available at nhd.org/why-nhd-works.

For more information on participating, contact Dr. Sharon Silzell, coordinator of Arkansas Region 4, at silzell@uamont.edu.

UAM News is everything from the University of Arkansas At Monticello.

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