U.S. Honors students partake in National History Day

Jenny Lupoff, Staff Writer

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Since the beginning of second semester, students in the U.S. History honors classes have been collaborating with their groupmates for the National History Day Contest, which will be held at the regional level on March 21 at Fairfield University.

Each year, the grades 6-12 history contest revolves around a different theme, this year’s being “leadership and legacy.” Through a written paper or the creation of a documentary, website, exhibit or theatrical performance, students have the freedom to explore just about anything throughout history that ties back to this theme.

U.S. honors classes began partaking in this contest last year, after it was discovered by social studies department head, Lauren Francese.

Social studies teacher Sara Pinchback, who teaches U.S. honors, thought the completely student driven project sounded like a great learning opportunity.

In Pinchback’s class, though her student’s topics must have a local tie relating to Connecticut or near by, there aren’t any other specific guidelines that students must follow.

“For some students, it’s the first time they have had this much freedom,” Pinchback said. “I have students driving to random places and others who haven’t left the internet; [the project] gives them a chance to stretch if they want to.”

Though not the typical history project, students seem to appreciate the creative freedom that the project as well as the specific theme entails.

“I really like this project,” Channing Smith’ 17 said. “The theme leadership and legacy is really general and open to interpretation.”

Likewise, Emily Porter’ 17 feels that “the theme is really interesting because it is seen in all time periods and applies to all different people.”

With this opportunity to explore what interests them, regardless of the time period, students have found composing their projects to be enjoyable work.

“Students are more motivated to do work if it’s on something they have genuine interest in,” Smith said, who’s looking at hippies and the impact of the counterculture movement on society today. “This is something that has always interested me, and now I am able to spend my class time on something I really enjoy.”

Yet the students are not the only ones who have enjoyed exploring history beyond what the curriculum offers.

“Groups are doing JP Morgan, Paul Newman, the Westport Country Playhouse- it can really be anything,” Pinchback said. “Each year I have a lot of fun; I get to follow along and no project to project is ever the same.”

 

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