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April 15, 2008

Virginia History Day final competition held in Williamsburg April 26

Virginia History Day will be held at Jamestown High School in Williamsburg April 26. This competition will qualify the top two winners in each category to progress to the National History Day (NHD) competition held at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., June 15 – 19.

Judging begins at 9 a.m. with the finalists in all categories selected by noon. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the Virginia affiliate of National History Day, which invites students from across the country to enter the annual national history competition. The theme for 2008 is “Conflict and Compromise in History,” and students were asked to examine how both have shaped the course of history for individuals, communities, nations or the world.

More than 600,000 students in grades six through 12 from across the United States, including 2,000 from Virginia, have entered this year’s competition at district levels. More than 300 students will compete at the state level in Virginia. Whether from rural or urban areas attending private or public schools, students apply the skills of a historian as they conduct research for projects they hope will take them all the way to the National History Day competition in June.

Students in grades six through eight are assigned to the junior division; students in grades nine through 12 are assigned to the senior division. The two best entries in each category will qualify for the national competition. Each student has worked on his or her project with a sponsoring teacher who is usually from the student’s school. The teacher provides guidance and encouragement during the course of the project.

National History Day promotes historical inquiry, knowledge and understanding among elementary and secondary students. Through an educational program culminating in nationwide competitions, NHD encourages the development of research skills, analytical thinking and creative expression. The most important purpose of NHD is to change the way history is taught – and learned –by challenging students to conduct meaningful historical inquiry and providing a positive learning environment in which students’ work is evaluated in a constructive manner outside the classroom by judges made up of university professors, high school teachers, museum curators and other public historians.

NHD encourages active learning and motivates teachers to use primary sources in their classrooms and to teach students how to analyze and interpret these materials. It promotes the study of history by allowing students to express themselves creatively in a variety of formats.

Students may enter the competition in one of four categories: exhibit, performance, documentary and paper; they may enter as individuals or in groups of two to five.

“I have seen students completely transformed by this process,” said Tab Broyles, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of teacher professional development and NHD state coordinator for Virginia. “The competition stimulates them to strive for excellence and develops lifelong thinking and presentation skills. They produce original plays, documentary films, artwork, thoughtful papers, music and poetry. Sometimes the whole family gets involved and becomes excited about using primary sources to make the study of history come alive. This year’s theme is a provocative one, and I expect their creativity will be quite evident once again.”

Seven students from Virginia placed in the top 10 in the nation in their categories in the 2007 competition.

In addition to the awards in each category, special awards and scholarships are also presented. Two students from Virginia won the national competition in 2007. Paul Michel and Mohammad Rasool from Monticello High School in Albemarle County were awarded full tuition scholarships to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, renewable for four years.

Students and teachers can learn more about how to participate in Virginia History Day by contacting state coordinator Tab Broyles at 757-220-7975 or or visiting For more information on National History day, visit

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” – a daily dramatic live street theater presentation – is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280