Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:55 AM
Published on: Thursday, June 27, 2013
By Zach Kushner
BALTIMORE – Every year, 600,000 students from all over the country participate in local National History Day competitions, but only a select few of these students are chosen to compete at the national level. From those select few, seven students from Montgomery County came away from the competition as finalists.
The National History Day competition is the result of nearly a year’s worth of research and preparation by students wanting to compete at the highest level. Five categories winners can be judged on research papers, museum-type exhibits, performances, websites and multimedia documentaries. The theme for this year’s competition was “Turning Points in History.”
Three students from Richard Montgomery High School, Rachel Gold, Anne Kim and Ankita Reddy, all completed a senior group documentary together called “Morality and Immortality: The Cultivation of Human Cells.” This group got involved in the competition because it was a mandatory part of their seventh grade curriculum at Eastern Middle School.
From that first experience, Gold said, “we were all completely hooked and thirsting for more.”
They all especially enjoyed being able to use their own creativity as part of their documentary, as well as being able to go on field trips to meet with people and learn valuable information that they otherwise would not have had the opportunity to.
Putting together the documentary was no easy feat. In addition to the extensive research, they had to put together a 10-minute script, find pictures and videos to craft the documentary, and interview experts.
“We had all participated in the NHD competition before so we knew what to expect,” Kim said. They spent several months on this project, just as many other competitors did. To be selected as a national finalist, as Gold, Kim, and Reddy were, there are multiple rounds the project must go through. In the first round, teams of judges review the projects just as in the state and local competitions. The top two projects in each first-round group of 13 projects are chosen as finalists to compete in the final round of judging.
“The national contest is highly competitive, so it is a special honor to be chosen as a finalist,” said Judy Dobbs, program officer of National History Day.