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Virginia students dive in to history; 20 percent increase in state competition

Crystal Graham
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Students in grades 4-12 from across the Commonwealth are preparing to compete at the annual Virginia History Day state competition at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond April 27-28.

Virginia History Day is the state affiliate of the National History Day program.

Similar to a science fair, but for history, the National History Day contest was founded in 1974 to inspire students to conduct original historical research. Students select a historical topic, conduct primary and secondary source research, and then present their findings in one of five presentation categories: paper, exhibit, documentary, performance or website.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National History Day contest, and to celebrate, this year’s NHD theme is “Turning Points in History: People, Places, Ideas.” This theme invites students in all categories to consider an idea, event or action that directly, or sometimes indirectly, caused change.

After months of research and success in local and regional competitions, more than 400 students will spend the weekend at the VMHC presenting historical research projects in hopes of securing their spot at the National History Day contest in June.

This year’s state competition will be the largest state contest the museum has hosted. This year’s local district contests saw participation from 1,200 students – a 20 percent increase from last year and the highest number of students ever to participate statewide.

National History Day began in 1974 in Cleveland, Ohio, and was founded by Dr. David Van Tassel, a Case Western Reserve University professor with rising concerns about lagging history education.

For more information about the 2024 Virginia History Day competition, visit VirginiaHistory.org/VirginiaHistoryDay

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.