Regional Students win Awards at New York State History Day

JBD_1541aTwo projects by North Country students won special prizes at New York State History Day held in Cooperstown, New York, on Monday, April 27. Ben Caito and Liam Sayward, homeschool students from the Plattsburgh area won the Hanaford Mills Museum’s Power of Rural History Award and Mackenzie Strum from Ticonderoga High School won the American Labor Studies Award.

Over 400 students participated at New York State History Day, part of the National History Day program that begins with regional contests around the state. North Country History Day includes students from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and Warren counties and is held at Fort Ticonderoga each March. Winners at the regional level advance to compete in Cooperstown. Winners at the state level advance to National History Day held in College Park, Maryland, each June.

Ben Caito from Jay, NY and Liam Sayward from Peru, NY competed in the Senior Group Performance category with “Let the Future Tell the Truth.” They won the Hanford Mills Museum’s Power of Rural History Award for an outstanding entry that explores the impact of ingenuity, entrepreneurship, technology, and/or natural resources on rural life. Hanford Mills generates powerful messages about the effect of technological changes on community life, especially the impact of energy and technology on rural communities. The museum explores technological innovation, for example, how processes change even as products and services remain the same.

Mackenzie Strum competed in the Senior Individual Performance category with “Frances Perkins: The Woman behind the New Deal.” She won the American Labor Studies Award for an outstanding entry on labor history in the United States presented by the American Labor Studies Center at the Kate Mullany National Historic Site and sponsored by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Students from Moriah Central School, Peru Junior High School, Peru Senior High School, and St. Mary’s School (Ticonderoga) also represented the region at New York State History Day on April 27.

National History Day is the nation’s leading program for history education in schools. The program annually engages 2 million people in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. Students research history topics of their choice related to an annual theme and create exhibits, documentaries, performances, research papers, and website designs. They may enter in competition at the regional, state, and national level. Participants include students in grades 6-8 in the Junior Division and grades 9-12 in the Senior Division. National History Day also provides educational services to students and teachers, including a summer internship program, curricular materials, internet resources, and annual teacher workshops and training institutes. Fort Ticonderoga hosts teacher workshops about History Day each fall in the North Country and Regional Coordinator Rich Strum is available to meet with teachers at their schools to introduce the program. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal in 2011, “Students who participate in National History Day—actually a year-long program that gets students in grades 6-12 doing historical research—consistently outperform their peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies but in science and math as well.”

Teachers and students from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and Warren counties interested in participating in North Country History Day during the 2015-16 school year should contact Rich Strum, Fort Ticonderoga Director of Education and North Country Regional Coordinator for New York State History Day, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org or at (518) 585-6370.

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