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MHS Freshmen Explore History’s Triumphs and Tragedies on National History Day

On Friday, Jan. 25, Milton Hershey School freshmen participated in the school’s third-annual National History Day competition.

Students selected an individual, idea, or event in history and conducted research in order to demonstrate how their topic is connected to this year’s theme “Triumph and Tragedy.” They had the opportunity to present their research in one of eight categories—individual and group performances, group website, individual website, individual exhibit, group exhibit, individual documentary, group documentary, and paper.

Seventy-five judges, including employees from MHS, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, and The Pennsylvania State University, volunteered their time to review and select the best presentations. MHS Associate Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brett Stark welcomed the guest judges and reflected on school founder Milton Hershey’s personal connection to the day’s theme.

“Milton Hershey lived through great tragedy in his life. He could have given up, but he followed his passion and that’s why we are here today,” said Stark. “He would be proud of the community and how our employees, partners, and supporters have come together today for our students.”

Students presented on a variety of self-selected topics—from the winter at Valley Forge to the horrors of 9/11.

National History Day competition

The top students will advance to the regional competition at Messiah College on March 2, 2019. In the categories of individual and group performances, group website, and individual documentary, the top three students or groups will advance. In the categories of group documentary, group exhibit, individual exhibit, and paper, only the top student or group will advance, while the top two students in the individual website category will advance.

“My favorite part of today was that I even got to experience it,” said Brianna Davis, an MHS ninth-grader. “I was really excited to share my project. I feel that we worked so hard on it and I think it was time that it needed to be shared.” 

Students also found a connection to their everyday academics.

“I felt like going through this has helped with other schoolwork because it teaches you to improve your presentation and public speaking skills,” shared Nikayla Willis. “You have to focus on speaking clearly and making eye contact with the judges.”

National History Day is a nationwide movement that encourages students to apply their historical knowledge through hands-on projects and presentations to real-world audiences. More than half a million middle and high school students across the country participate annually.

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