State History Day highlights freshman historians


Minnesota Historical Society

Pictured above is Gus Lafave and Azalea Rohr, two of the eight South students who qualified for Nationals in Maryland. Other qualifying students are Sofia Fish, Gwen McMahon, Annabelle Niblett, Ella Hoch-Robinson, and Gabriel Chang-Deutsch.

Hazel McKinney, Staff Writer

The state competition for History Day was held May 2nd. Many South students made it to this level but only four projects and eight people moved on to Nationals. Three of these projects were created by freshmen. Gus LaFave, Sofia Fish, and Azalea Rohr created a website earning them second place in the senior group website category. Annabelle Niblett and Gwen McMahon also placed second in state, but they presented their work in an exhibit. The only first place winner for South was freshman Ella Hoch-Robinson who made a website. Lastly sophomore Gabriel Chang-Deutsch placed second in senior papers. “It’s really exciting this will be my first time competing at Nationals, my group mates have been there before,” said LaFave.

History Day is an annual competition open to middle and high schoolers. Many schools require students to do history day, at South History Day is apart of the sophomore curriculum. Simply put, History Day is an extensive project where the students can decide to do an exhibit, website, paper, performance, or documentary. Students may pick their own topic but they must relate it to the theme of the year in their project’s thesis. This year’s theme was Triumph and Tragedy.

“Me and my partner decided we wanted to do a topic that wasn’t European history because we learn about American history and European history a lot at school but we don’t learn about a lot of Asian topics so we really wanted to pick one that centered around that,” said McMahon. The national competition for History day is from June 9th-13th, so groups have limited time to revise their project based on the comments from the state judges. “We’re putting in a lot of work right now to change up some things and we’re hoping to do well,” said LaFave.

The contestants from Minnesota along with their history teachers will travel to the University of Maryland, College Park, where the competition is being held.

For many History Day is thought of as just a school project and not something that you would necessarily choose to do because of the extra workload and stress. This year mostly freshman chose to take on the project on top of other schoolwork. “I just don’t know what I would do with my time otherwise, it’s just become what I do in my free time. I strive to do better and just see what more I can do with it,” said Hoch-Robinson.

Although students in the Liberal Arts program did have the option to exchange a History Day project for their summative in quarter two, they are motivated to choose History Day. “This is my third year in a row doing History Day and I just think it’s just what we do in the classroom but expanded on and I think it’s a lot more fun because it gives you a lot more choice and freedom in what you want to spend your time on,” said LaFave. “It gives you a lot of space for creative expression, you can make websites or documentaries or stuff like that and I just thought the classroom assignment sounded more boring.”