For immediate release
April 18, 2014
Geoffrey Fattah, 801.245.7205
Communications Director, Utah Dept. of Heritage and Arts
For Technical Information: Alycia Aldrich, 801.245-7226
UTAH STUDENTS BRING HISTORY TO LIFE AT UTAH HISTORY DAY STATE COMPETITION
SALT LAKE CITY – About two hundred eighty-five middle and high school students from all over Utah will compete at the annual Utah History Day State Competition next Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Held at Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, this rigorous academic event is the culmination of months of work for these students, who were the top finishers at nine regional events held statewide in February and March.
The contestants range in age from 6th to 12th grade, and represent a broad range of Utah communities. In addition to students from the Wasatch Front, contestants will travel from San Juan, Washington, Cache, Duchesne, Carbon, Sanpete, and Beaver Counties to participate. State winners qualify to represent Utah at the National History Day competition in June, held in Washington, D.C.
Centering their historical research on the annual theme “Rights and Responsibilities in History,” these students have learned to conduct real historical research and analysis, and developed their reading, literacy, critical thinking, and presentation skills. Students will present their work in one of five formats: museum-style exhibit, documentary film, historical performance, original website, or research paper. This competition will showcase student research on topics ranging from slavery and women’s rights to Japanese internment and the Downwinders of Utah, and hundreds more.
“I used to hate history,” stated Tabiona high school senior MacKenzie Wagner, a four-time state winner, “but now it’s my favorite subject.” Wagner appreciates how the History Day program offers students much greater depth than a typical lecture in class. “You begin to see the connections in history and understand cause and effect.” She also finds that the skills developed through the History Day process transfer to many other subjects, especially Science and English. Teachers appreciate how the History Day model offers a rich integrated learning experience and helps them to meet a large number of Common Core standards.
Utah History Day (formerly called Utah History Fair) has operated continuously in Utah for more than 30 years and is the official National History Day affiliate program for the state. The program was originally developed and housed at Utah State University. This year, however, it was transferred to the Utah Division of State History in Salt Lake City. “We could not be happier to provide a new home for Utah’s National History Day program,” states Brad Westwood, Director of the Division of State History. “Students from any community in Utah can participate in this program, which will cultivate a lifelong appreciation of history and heritage in our young people.” Legislation supporting the transfer was passed during the 2014 legislative session. A ceremonial bill signing with Governor Gary Herbert will be held in May.
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