The University of Southern Miss History Department recently sponsored 42 students participating in the National History Day (NHD) competition at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., and returned with improved results for Mississippi. NHD is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students.
The history department operates the state NHD competition for Mississippi, and over the past two years has reinvigorated the program with an ambitious program of individual mentoring for both students and teachers, with the help of a federal grant and a full-time volunteer, Renee McClendon of Diamondhead, Miss. Participating high school and middle school students from across the state won several awards.
"Our team has done a fantastic job increasing Mississippi's national profile with History Day,” said Dr. Phyllis Jestice, professor and chair of the Southern Miss Department of History. “The state program is growing, and we hope more and more schools will be involved in future years."
This year’s national competition results are as follows:
*Bradley Curtis, Armstrong Middle School in Starkville, 3rd place in the historical paper category.
*Rachel Jordan and Leah Lester, Madison, 8th place in the group exhibit category.
*Josue Perez, Pascagoula High School, 3rd place in first round room for individual web site
*Rachel, Leah and Josue’s work earned "Best of State" Projects from Mississippi
*Mary Beth Kinsey, Pascagoula High School, won the "Freedom" Award, including a paid weekend in New Orleans (each state has one winner), for the opening of the new wing of the National WWII Museum.
Nationally, 600,000 students participate in NHD, but only 47 percent advance to national competition. Each project at nationals is competing with 100 other projects from 55 states and territories.
In 2010, the average rank of Mississippi students' projects in their first round of the competition was 12th out of 14. This year, the state’s average rank was 7th out of 14. In 2010, the state had approximately 15 students with eight projects at Nationals; this year, that figure increased to 42 students with 25 projects. The most possible per state at nationals is 36 projects.