Students from Thomas County Middle School and Thomas County Central High School recently attended the National History Day State Competition at Mercer University. Seven students from Thomas County Schools qualified for the NHD National Contest and will attend the competition in June at the University of Maryland.
Mandy West, National History Day coordinator for TCMS, said, “National History Day allows students to take a topic they are passionate about and gain a deeper understanding of its historical context. Going to archives, analyzing primary sources, visiting museums and interviewing witnesses are all ways our students increase their historical knowledge and build lifelong skills.”
This is the fifth year Thomas County students have entered the state contest. Students were led by teachers Charla Floyd, Christine Patton, Heather Ward, and Mandy West. This year's theme was "Taking a Stand in History."
Ninth grade students Zach Goff and Emma Goff built a website to explain the significance of the life and work of Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of Jewish children in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust. It is the fourth year in a row the Goffs have qualified for the national competition.
“This was our first year competing in the Senior Division for NHD,” Emma Goff said. “When they called second place, Zach and I thought that we didn’t have a chance at winning first place. When they called our names as the winners, we were so astounded! We are so excited to be able to go back to the national competition this year.”
Karsyn Bush, seventh grade student at Thomas County Middle School, has qualified for the national competition for the first time. Bush’s project was a website about codebreakers during World War II.
“My favorite thing about my project is that rarely anybody knows about it,” Bush commented. “They codebreakers had to keep their job a secret and that is why they are not that well known. Information about the Bletchley Park Codebreakers wasn't released until the late 1970s. A lot of people don't give credit to the codebreakers even though they helped win the war.”
In addition to qualifying for the national contest, two TCCHS students won a special award for their project on The Radium Girls of WWI. Brooklyn Reese and Kennedy Ward, who have previously represented Georgia at nationals in other categories, were awarded The Edward Jones Award for Economic History for their documentary.
Ward said, "Receiving this award was such an honor. Winning at state and qualifying for nationals was special, but winning the special award in economic history validated our hard work even further."
Students who finish in first or second place at the state competition qualify for the national competition. The complete list of national qualifiers includes Thomas County Central High School students Kennedy Ward and Brooklyn Reese (2nd place group documentary), Emma Goff and Zach Goff (1st place group website), and Thomas County Middle School students Karsyn Bush (2nd place individual website), and Jenaya Tyler and Morgan Ward (2nd place group website).
Other winners at the state competition include TCCHS students Cynthia Ramos and Kayla Moore (group exhibit finalists) and TCMS students Laura Hiers (3rd place individual performance), Georgia Rose Patton (3rd place individual website), Emily Hobbs (individual exhibit finalist), Ben Castillo (individual documentary finalist), and Bradley Dechman (individual website finalist).
National History Day allows students to choose their own topic and presentation style while learning about a specific historical time period and meeting Common Core literacy and Georgia Performance social studies standards. Students are required to use balanced research from primary and secondary sources to prove their thesis statements.