Westside Middle School Academy honors National History Day


From Westside Middle School Academy: Students at Westside Middle School Academy researched the history of civil rights to women’s rights through the anti-dueling movement and filled two halls of their school with exhibits on February 3, in honor of National History Day.

Two hundred seventh and eighth graders from the Global Studies program presented topics ranging from the Gandi Salt March to the Sea, the War in the Pacific, and women’s rights. Students will now present their projects to the NHD National Level Competition in Torrington on March 11. Participation for the seventh year is funded by a Civil Rights Grant.

National History Day is a history-focused college competition for grades 6 to 12 and began in 1974 on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

“It all started with a musical,” said eighth-grader Greg Fanning, referring to Broadway sensation “Hamilton”; He and project partners Daniel Storms and Ryan Margiloff didn’t see the musical, but listened to the music and were fascinated by the story that led to the anti-dueling movement in the 1800s.

“There was a lot of tension between Hamilton and Burr,” said Greg, who has since learned that there are state laws against dueling in all states except Texas.

“A duel was an honorary practice,” said Daniel. “Hamilton didn’t want to fight Burr… he was forced into a duel.”

Eighth-grader Camily Aguiar, who, along with student Maame Obeng, was chosen for the national competition last year for her presentation on the “Montgomery Bus Boycott”. This year’s project with partners Gabriella Silva and Sierra Geoffrion focused on “Roe v. Wade”, the Supreme Court case that resulted in the legalization of abortion in 1973.

“Abortion is a controversial topic,” Camilly said. “This whole movement started because defenders believed it was a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.”

Kaitlyn Klampert and Kiana Shabazz-Williams, both in eighth grade, researched Jane Goodall and her work to save chimpanzees. They both wanted to work on a project involving animals.

“And she took a stand to save the lives of chimps,” Kaitlyn said, and received the Lady of the British Empire award for her work.

The History Day project, led by Global Studies Theme Coach Jacob Thies, has been a major focus of the World Studies Academy as it combines research, reading, writing and technology skills with a historical investigation. A panel of community, school district, and school judges with backgrounds in research, history, and technology rated the projects using NHD rubrics and provided students with feedback on their presentations.

WSMSA professors Nancy Barlow, Andrea LaRosa, Laura Muller and Thies have worked with the students on the project and will accompany them to their next level of competition. After the regional competition in March, there is the national competition in April. National History Day is in June.

Images courtesy of Westside Middle School Academy


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