Radford hosts National History Day

History came to life March 20 when Radford University's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) hosted an enthusiastic group of middle – and high-school students on campus for the annual National History Day.

The competition brought 74 school children to the Radford campus to present their history research through their choice of documentaries, exhibits, performances, websites or papers. Participating students represented Pulaski High School, St. John Neumann Academy and Blacksburg New School.

Behind the theme of "Leadership and Legacy," the competitors presented through various media on topics ranging from the monstrous vision of Adolph Hitler to the modern influences of Walt Disney; from the legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte to Berry Gordy and Soul Train.

Each student competitor was interviewed by a panel of judges made up of RU faculty, students and retired and current members of the McConnell Library staff.

Later in the day, awards were given for first and second place and honorable mention in each category for junior division (grades 6-8) and senior division (grades 9-12). Those individuals are invited to participate in the state competition.

Students who placed were encouraged take the feedback from the judges and improve their entry and submit to the state competition, said Ann Roberts, an associate professor in CEHD's School of Teacher Education and Leadership (STEL). Roberts and STEL Associate Professor Kristan Morrison served as coordinators for the event.


Judges Blair Brainard (left), Jim Sellers (center) and Michael Spradlin take a closer look at a presentation on Barry Gordy as they work with another judging team to determine the 2015 NHD Exhibit Junior Individual District Three History Day winners.

"National History Day is the celebration of kids learning more in-depth content about history," Roberts said. "They are encouraged to research, to do critical thinking, to conduct creative processing in exploring issues or people or time periods. It is our hope to make history more inspiring."

Roberts said one goal for hosting the event was to give the competing students "opportunities for public speaking, to get good feedback and to get validated. To me, it's a wonderful opportunity to create lifelong lovers of history."

Radford University's Department of History has organized the District III National History Day on campus since 1996. This year, CEHD led the event, and Roberts hopes the college and the History Department can co-sponsor the event beginning next year.

"The faculty and students of the Department of History are the champions of this event," Roberts said. "They were our guiding forces. They conferred with us. They told us how to manage everything. They have been so dedicated to this event."

Mar 24, 2015