First week of summer, last week of History Day


The national level of the History Day competition this year will be attended by South sophomore Isaiah Bischoff, for his documentary on conflicts involving the boundary waters. The first week of summer is the week that the national competition will occur, Bischoff will be accompanied by two South history teachers, Joshua Fischer and Jeffrey Buszta. Image credit: Isaiah Bischoff

Oliver Hall, Staff Writer

I highly doubt you don’t know what History Day is. Even if you don’t know the specifics of students’ potential path to finals, its highly unlikely that you aren’t at least somewhat aware of the annual History Day projects consuming classrooms across the country. However, some information that’s a little less well known is that this year we managed to send a South student to the national competition.

“It starts out as a classroom assignment, a project that student can work on, they can work by themselves, they can work in groups, we like to limit the group size to three but [they allow] as many as 5. There’s a variety of projects you can do which include a documentary, which  include a performance, a website, an exhibit (what I usually call a poster board), the last one is a research paper. The only one you have to work by yourself on is the research paper.” This is how humanities teacher Jeffrey Buszta described History Day.

This year one of the lucky few to make it to the national level of History Day was South sophomore Isaiah Bischoff. Bischoff created a documentary about the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota and their history. “I had been up to the Boundary Waters before and I just loved it up there and been on a couple trips and while I was there I was kinda wondering how is it protected and what were the laws in place that kept such a big chunk of land protected so then I was just genuinely interested in it. So then when it was time to pick a topic, I picked the history of the Boundary Waters.” said Bischoff.

Bischoff went more in depth regarding what it was about the boundary waters he chose to talk about: “it’s basically this fight that there was in the 70s mostly, with opposing sides some people wanted the site to be protected as a national [park] a lot of times local people there were more in favor of multiple use and being able to use boats there and they kinda saw it as preserving their lifestyle.”

Joshua Fischer is another Social Studies teacher here at South who discussed his personal beliefs on the importance of History Day and why he had them. “I’m a strong advocate for History Day at this school and think that it’s one of the few opportunities students get to really be in the driver’s seat when it comes  to the things they’re asked to do by their teachers. They get to choose the topic they get to choose how they want to present their information and ultimately have a lot more voice than they may have in some other elements of assignments that they complete for social studies classes here at South.”

Fischer talked about its relevance to the South community and the unique potential it has to the South community. “It’s a thing that I think is important for our school community for that piece. It’s a student centered project and I think despite all the complaining at the beginning of the project most students come away from it feeling like they actually learned something and picked up some skills that will be useful for them long term. That’s one reason that I have really thrown my weight here the last few years at South High trying to really strengthen our history day program and continue the success that we’ve had.”

History Day is something that can give students a chance to succeed and prove what they’re capable of. This year Bischoff has earned himself an opportunity to prove what he’s capable of. It’s likely that with the continued advocacy from Fischer and the continued success of South students will allow History Day will continue.