Students from Elizabethtown Area High School recently took part in the 2018 National History Day regional competition at Kutztown University. High school juniors Ryan Minnich, Sean Brown, and Nat McCloud as well as high school freshmen Benjamin Heinz and Ryan Risser all represented the district at the competition. High School social studies teacher Gerald Huesken Jr. advised the students on their current contest roles through the High School’s National History Day club.
During the contest’s awards ceremony, both Brown (third)and McCloud (second) placed in the Senior Individual Research Paper category of the contest while Heinz and Risser (third) placed in the Senior Group Documentary category. Brown, McCloud, Heinz, and Risser will now have an opportunity to present their work at the Pennsylvania State National History Competition in May at Carlisle High School. Winners at this competition have the opportunity to move on to the National NHD Contest at the University of Maryland, College Park in June.
Established in 1974 on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, the National History Day program is for middle school and high school students. Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in NHD contests in all fifty states as well as overseas in Guam, American Samoa, and Department of Defense schools around the world.
Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews, and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances, and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at the local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians, NHD officials, and educators. The contest also operates each year under a broad historical theme to help students focus their research and project ideas. The contest theme for 2018 is “Conflict and Compromise” Minnich’s project focuses on a discussion of conflict and compromise in the world of philosophy with a look at the competing philosophical viewpoints of existentialism, nihilism and absurdism and how they impact human nature and our role in the world. Brown’s project focuses on the conflicting viewpoints and eventual compromise of economic and democratic values with the “Miracle of Chile,” a term used by American economists Milton Friedman to describe the economic reforms of the 1980s under the military government of Augusto Pinochet. McCloud’s project focuses on American writer Kurt Vonnegut and how his social and political views and experience with war conflicted through his writings with the politics of the 1960s. Heinz and Risser worked together on a project that explores the ethical questions and compromises of scientific data gathered from Nazi wartime experiments and the post-war debate over what to do with the data.