National History Day is a yearlong educational program that encourages elementary, middle and high school students to explore local, state, national and world history. Nationwide, some 700,000 students and 40,000 teachers participate annually in the program.
National History Day – California is one of the largest state National History Day competitions in the country and has received special certificates of recognition from the offices of U.S. Congressman John Campbell and U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. It is active in 34 California counties and reaches some 44,000 students, with an estimated 1,000 students participating in the state competition. This year, the Orange County Department of Education was selected to become the ongoing California state affiliate for the annual National History Day celebrations and student competitions.
Students select a historical topic that relates to an annual theme, then conduct extensive research using libraries, archives, museums and oral history interviews to create projects that are entered into a series of local and state competitions, culminating in a national competition.
In addition to teaching the relevance and importance of history for all grade levels and ages, the program is designed to help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, research and reading skills, oral and written communication and presentation skills, self-esteem and confidence, and a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process.
At each competition level, the student projects are evaluated by professional historians and educators. These projects can take the form of papers, performances, web sites, documentaries and exhibits. Competition divisions include Elementary (grades 4 & 5), Junior (grades 6-8), and Senior (grades 9-12).
The Orange County Department of Education was selected by the national office as the California state affiliate for the annual National History Day celebrations and student competitions.