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BENTONVILLE -- Hundreds of Northwest Arkansas students will gather today to show off their projects in hopes of advancing to the state level of the National History Day contest -- and maybe even higher.

History Day is a competition for students in middle school through high school. They research a topic from history and present what they've learned in one of five categories -- documentaries, exhibits, papers, performances and websites.

Open to the public

Parts of today’s National History Day competition at Northwest Arkansas Community College are open to the public:

*Performances and documentaries will be from 9-11 a.m. in Burns Hall.

*Exhibits and posters will be on display from 1-3 p.m. in the Walmart Auditorium of the Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies.

Source: Staff Report

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All categories have a junior and senior division. Each category, aside from papers, also has a group and an individual category.

This year's theme is "conflict and compromise." Northwest Arkansas Community College hosts the state's Region 10 regional competition each year at this time. There will be 455 students with 294 projects competing from Benton, Washington, Madison and Boone counties, according to Jami Forrester, the Region 10 History Day coordinator.

Top performers at the regional competition advance to the state competition April 7 in Conway. Top performers at state are invited to the national contest, to be held June 10-14 at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md.

Forrester, an associate professor of history at Northwest Arkansas Community College, is in her seventh year as regional coordinator.

People today are inundated with information, and sorting truth from falsehoods can be a challenge, Forrester said.

"I believe through these projects and through the National History Day program, students are learning how to validate sources, how to determine how history is written and why it's written the way it's written. I think that's very important for many levels of education," she said.

Springdale's Tyson School of Innovation requires each of its students to do a History Day project. The school is sending 72 of its students to today's regional competition.

Among them will be Meghan Boen, 15, a sophomore from Springdale. She's competing in the website contest with her entry, "Ghost Dance and Sitting Bull: Lack of Compromise Leads to Death."

Meghan said she's put hundreds of hours into her project. It's her third year participating in History Day. She described presenting her project to judges as "nerve-wracking."

"Usually before the competition I stress out and I stress out," Meghan said. "I'll build myself up into a ball of nerves. Once I get in there, I know my stuff. I can answer every question."

Malak Bayyari, 16, of Tontitown combined with School of Innovation classmates Calvin Ryerse and Daniel Peraza to make a documentary, "Voices of the Jazz Movement: Conflict of Race, Compromise of American Culture." This is Bayyari's fourth year doing History Day.

Students not only tell a story from history, but connect it to the annual theme of History Day and how it's relevant to today, Bayyari said.

Marian Hendrickson, a history teacher at the School of Innovation, has been involved in History Day as an adviser to students for 15 years. History Day teaches students not only research skills, but also the soft skills that come to play during interviews with judges, such as presenting oneself in a professional manner, Hendrickson said.

Students pick their own topics to study and become experts on those topics, some of which she's never even heard of, Hendrickson said.

"I've learned a heck of a lot," she said.

Prairie Grove Middle School will be represented by 30 students at today's competition. History Day is part of the school's curriculum.

The school has sent students to the national competition each of the past five years, said teacher Melanie Nations.

"It helps kids to understand the significance of historical events rather than just memorizing dates and events," Nations said. "It requires them to present an argument and support it."

Prairie Grove Middle School is one of several Northwest Arkansas schools that are regulars at the regional competition. For other schools, including Bentonville's Washington Junior High School and Springdale's Hellstern Middle School, today will be the first time they've been represented in the event, Forrester said.

The event also includes a poster contest for fourth- and fifth-graders. Students do not present those posters, but they will be on display for the public to view from 1-3 p.m. today in the Walmart Auditorium of the Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies.

This year's competition will involve 136 judges, including people from the college, the University of Arkansas and local museums. Evelyn Jorgenson, the college's president, will judge as she has in past years.

Three Rogers teens last year became the first Northwest Arkansas students to earn a first-place prize at the national level of the History Day contest. Venkata Panabakam, Denise Martinez and Sidra Nadeem of Rogers' New Technology High School took first for their documentary on the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador.

Two of those three students -- Nadeem and Panabakam -- are teaming up again, along with Abigail Toto, on a documentary titled, "A Conflict that Annihilated A Culture: The Stolen Generation of Australia."

NW News on 03/03/2018

Print Headline: History Day returns to Northwest Arkansas Community College

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