Junior high and high school students from four area schools competed in the 39th annual Texas History Day regional competition at A&M-Commerce on March 8. This year’s theme is Triumph and Tragedy in History, and participants applied the theme to a research topic of their choice.
The A&M-Commerce Department of History hosts the competition each spring in collaboration with the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) and participating school districts.
TSHA’s website describes Texas History Day as an academic program that focuses on research, interpretation and creative expression. Throughout the school year, students work on history projects which they present at 23 regional competitions throughout Texas. According to TSHA, almost 70,000 Texas students participate in Texas History Day each year.
Students enjoy numerous benefits from their participation in Texas History Day. According to Dr. Jessica Brannon-Wranosky, TSHA board member and history professor at A&M-Commerce, “History day exposes students to different learning possibilities in a university environment. To be able to visit campus, walk around, meet people and see smiling faces removes barriers and makes the university more approachable, a little more comfortable.”
Brannon-Wranosky added that history day also exposes students to project-based learning which invites students to deeply engage in meaningful research. “These projects require that students think about a project beyond a quiz or a reading sample,” she said.
Dr. Andrew Baker, a Texas History Day event coordinator and history professor at A&M-Commerce added, “History day provides students with an opportunity to ‘do’ history – to develop research skills, to creatively present their ideas and to receive feedback from judges.”
Eleventh grader Alexia Cox from Ford High School in Quinlan reflected that her research presentation helped develop her teaching skills. “Once I get out of college, I want to be a teacher. Presenting my board is a way to teach, and so I’m getting an early jump on seeing how teaching really goes,” she said.
From 23 regional competitions, winners will advance to state competition in Austin on April 27, and state winners will compete in the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland, College Park on June 9 through 13.