SALT LAKE CITY — When do social or political conflicts turn the tide of history? Can compromise avert a crisis, or just delay the inevitable? When compromise fails, does conflict always follow in its wake?
The 7,300-plus students who participated in Utah’s National History Day program this year have some good answers to these questions. Based on the theme “Conflict and Compromise in History,” these young historians have conducted extensive historical research on topics ranging from the Bear River Massacre to Japanese internment, from women’s suffrage to civil rights, and from eugenics to Utah’s Downwinders. Showcasing their research and their creativity through exhibits, performances, documentary films, websites, and papers, these students are ready to share their discoveries
On April 28, 420 middle and high school students competed in the Utah History Day State Contest at Hillcrest Junior High, Murray; after qualifying during regional contests this spring.
An award ceremony was held at the school after the competition. State champions will represent Utah at the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C., this June.
More than half a million students worldwide participate in National History Day every year. In Utah, the program is available statewide, with regional competitions in Logan, Ogden, Salt Lake, Orem, Price, Roosevelt, Beaver, St. George, and Blanding. Whether they live in rural or urban areas, or attend private or public schools, History Day students gain a deeper understanding of both the past and the present through their work.
“History Day offers teachers a powerful way to interest today’s kids in history and develop a sense of civic engagement,” said Dr. Wendy Rex-Atzet, Utah History Day State Coordinator. “Students gain concrete skills in research, reading, writing, critical thinking, and creative presentation. This skill set translates to kids who are better prepared for college and careers.”
Utah History Day (formerly called Utah History Fair) has operated continuously in Utah since 1980 and is the official National History Day affiliate program for the state. Originally developed and housed at Utah State University, the program was transferred in 2014 to the Utah Division of State History.
“We could not be happier to provide a home for Utah’s National History Day program,” Division of State History Director Brad Westwood said. “Students from any community in Utah can participate, which helps cultivate a lifelong appreciation of history and heritage in our young people.”