50 Oregon Students Head to the National History Day Contest

Students came from virtually everywhere in Oregon to compete online in this year’s Oregon History Day state contest, a qualifier for the National History Day Contest being held virtually from June 13-19.

For the second year, the contest moved to a digital format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With most state competitions having participation down by 50 percent, Oregon beat the average and retained all of its regular schools and independent students. From a pool of 120 participants in the state contest, 50 students will advance to complete at the national contest, where their projects will go up against thousands of other students from across the country and world.

“Every year I’m amazed by the tenacity of middle and high school students to latch onto something in history that they are curious about and to see them comb through primary and secondary sources online and in research libraries and archives to create a website, paper, documentary, performance or exhibit that shows off their months of hard work. This year, during the pandemic, most of these students labored alone at home, finding and reading articles, photos, and documents because their curiosity drove them to want to know about their past and wonder about how they may shape their future. These students are inspirational,” said Kristen Pilgrim, coordinator of the Oregon History Day program at the Oregon Historical Society.

National History Day is a year-long academic program that challenges middle and high school students to research, develop and present group or individual projects as papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances about historical topics related to an annual theme, such as this year’s theme: Communication in History: The Key to Understanding. Students push past rote memorization of facts and dates and instead learn historical content to develop perspective and understanding, so as to present a historical argument based on the evidence from their research.

Despite a challenging year, Oregon’s students had an impressive showing, and many projects spoke to the new state standards in Oregon Tribal History/Shared History, Holocaust and Genocide Education and Ethnic Studies, which are meant to expand the narratives and perspectives on Oregon, U.S. and world history. Local Oregon history, including projects on the Berhanu v. Metzger case, Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Timber Wars, were also present. Complete results from the 2021 Oregon History Day state contest are available on the OHS website.

More than half a million middle and high school students around the world participate in the program each year. This year in Oregon, the national qualifiers hail from the following schools:

Junior Division (Grades 6-8)
Seven Peaks School (Bend)
ACCESS Academy (Portland)
Stoller Middle School (Beaverton)

Senior Division (Grades 9-12)
St. Mary’s School (Bend)
Echo School (Echo)
Franklin High School (Portland)
Grant High School (Portland)
Helix School (Helix)
International School of Beaverton
Jesuit High School (Portland)
Lake Oswego Senior High School
Lincoln High School (Portland)
South Salem High School
St. Mary’s Academy (Portland)
Sunset High School (Beaverton)
Westview High School (Beaverton)


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