History Day? What's that?

Thursday, January 31, 2013


History Day?  What's that?
By Randy Schnabel  

First, it is a nationwide, year-long academic program for students in grades 6-12 with headquarters at the University of Maryland.  Students from all 50 states, some U.S. territories and international schools in East and Southeast Asia compete at the national contest in June.

Second, it is a statewide educational outreach effort of the Washington State Historical Society with a state coordinator working from the State Capital Museum in Olympia. The effort culminates in early May at a state contest held at Bellevue College.

Third, it is a Shoreline-based regional contest, one of seven in the state, which serves over 400 students from schools across north King County each year in March at the Shoreline Center. This North Puget Sound History Day contest is truly a Shoreline community project.  

Most of the volunteers whose efforts make the contest possible came to History Day as parents of Shorewood students figuring out how to do historical research in primary sources and present their conclusions as papers, exhibits, documentaries, performances or web sites.

Examples of volunteers include Gayle Edwards (former SW parent), who recruits and assigns the over 150 judges who review student work during the contest; Marianne Stephens (SW parent) and Lisa Oberg (UW Librarian) who organize the judging of papers; Don Wilson (SW parent) and Nathan Friend (former SW History Day competitor) who organize the judging of web sites; Geneva Norton (District Librarian and former SW parent); Johanna Warness (Conference Center staff and former SW parent); Krista Tenney (former SW parent) who has been organizing the contest headquarters; Scott Thompson (former SW parent); retired SC and SW teachers Al Johnston, Kent Porter, and Suzanne Whitacre who manage the exhibit hall; and Randy Schnabel (retired SL/SC/SW history teacher) who coordinates the event. Add to these all of the 150 or so community members who come forward each year to serve as judges.

Organizations have also supported the effort, including the Shoreline Historical Museum which offers a special award for student work on local history topics; the Shoreline Breakfast Rotary Club which sponsors awards for the best use of primary sources as determined by archivists at the National Archives and Records Administration; the City of Shoreline whose Spartan Recreation Center (former SL gym) serves as our exhibit hall; the Shorewood Culinary Arts program which provides delicious lunches for our judges; and, especially, the Shoreline School District which has granted use of the Shoreline Center annually since the inception of the contest in 1995 and whose leadership encourages staff to participate in a variety of ways.

Interested in joining in this community effort?  Contact Randy Schnabel.

Randy Schnabel is the Coordinator of the North Puget Sound Regional History Day


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