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Taking a deeper look: students gather to compete in History Day

Through the theme “Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in History,” Oklahoma Christian University hosted the District 3 National History Day competition for local middle and high school students on Thursday.

“Overall, this is a great educational experience,” history professor John Maple said. “I have a lot of satisfaction knowing that these students have gone beyond just reading the book. These students really delve into how history relates to a theme. They are getting an enriched educational experience, and that’s why I do this.”

Under categories such as historical papers, exhibits, performances, documentaries and website submissions, students competed in the first round of a nationwide competition. Exhibits were set up in the Payne Athletic Center and presentations were held in the Davisson American Heritage Building.

An awards ceremony in Hardeman Auditorium named 36 different winners at 1 p.m. These students will compete at the state-level National History Day competition.

“You don’t usually see kids hoop and holler for things other than sporting events,” Maple said. “But here kids get really excited about history. The whole atmosphere is really great. To hear the students cheering their school and classmates for academic achievement is a lot of fun.”

The winners represented schools from across the metro area including Oklahoma Christian Academy, Classen Schools of Advanced Studies, Kolbe Academy, All Saints Catholic School, Irving Middle School, Mercy School Institute and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

District 3 consists of seven counties: Grady, Canadian, Oklahoma, Logan, Kingfisher, Cleveland and McClain. Students were broken up into two age divisions:  junior division (grades six-eight) and senior division (grades nine-12).

Judges from all over the state of Oklahoma judged and provided feedback on the students’ work. The judges included members of Oklahoma Christian faculty and staff, members of the Oklahoma Historical Society and representatives of museums across the state.

Maple has organized this event on Oklahoma Christian’s campus since 1988, and said History Day would not be successful without the help of the Tau Sigma chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the history national honor society.

“Phi Alpha Theta is a huge help,” Maple said. “I assign them all kind of tasks. They are my back-up judges, they help with registration and reception. They do everything from judging to police patrol and many mundane tasks in between. They are a key part to getting everything done.”

The Oklahoma state competition will be May 4-5. Winners of state will then compete at the national competition on June 16. More information about National History Day can be found online.

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