Seventy Iowa students took top honors at the State Historical Society of Iowa’s state history contest Monday and will represent Iowa at the National History Day national contest in June.
The 70 students emerged from a total of 474 competitors in the National History Day in Iowa state contest at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The state winners now advance to the national contest, where they will compete virtually against nearly 3,000 students from the United States and around the world.
"National History Day is a wonderful program that gives students an opportunity to learn about history and develop skills that will last a lifetime,” said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. “We congratulate our state winners and wish them well as they represent Iowa at the national contest.”
This year's national qualifiers include students from 24 different schools:
- Abraham Lincoln High School
- Akron-Westfield Middle School
- Akron-Westfield Senior High School
- Bettendorf Middle School
- Carroll Middle School
- Clarinda High School
- Gerald W. Kirn Middle School
- Harding Middle School
- Johnston Middle School
- Johnston Senior High School
- Le Mars High School
- Le Mars Middle School
- Marshalltown High School
- Nashua-Plainfield Junior-Senior High School
- Nevada Middle School
- North Scott Senior High School
- Okoboji High School
- Oskaloosa Christian School
- Prairieview School
- Southeast Valley High School
- St. Benedict School
- Storm Lake High School
- Sudlow Intermediate
- Unity Christian High School
National History Day is a year-long academic program that challenges students to research, develop and present papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances about historical topics related to an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Debate and Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences.”
More than half a million middle and high school students around the world participate in the program each year. In Iowa, thousands of students participated in the program, which includes a Junior Division (grades 6-8), Senior Division (grades 9-12), and a non-competitive Youth Division (grades 4-5).
“National History Day in Iowa is one of the strongest programs of its kind in the country,” said the new state coordinator, Hanna Howard, who worked at Living History Farms before joining the State Historical Society of Iowa staff earlier this month. “Over the years, National History Day in Iowa has inspired a generation of young Iowans to pursue further studies and even careers in history, and I look forward to building upon that success.”
As part of the program, students learn important literacy skills and how to conduct research using primary, secondary, community and statewide resources. Working individually or in groups of two to five, they develop the following attributes that are essential for future success: critical thinking and problem-solving skills, research and reading skills, oral and written communication skills, presentation skills, self-esteem and confidence, as well as a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process.
The National History Day in Iowa program has been coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, since 1994 and is sponsored by the State Historical Society, Inc., A More Perfect Union by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Bravo Greater Des Moines.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.