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History lessons lead to acclaim for students, honor for teacher

National History Day participants from Cresthill Middle School

DENVER – The Wright Brothers and Audrey Hepburn; Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Brigham Young. The spotlight shines again on these historical figures and others, the result of award-winning presentations by middle and high school students in Douglas County.

“Leadership and Legacy in History” is the theme for the 2014-2015 National History Day (NHD) program. At the beginning of the school year, students throughout the state selected topics to study, and transformed their research into creative presentations for one of eleven regional contests. Students with winning entries from regional events advanced to the state-level competition, held Saturday, May 2, at the Auraria Campus in Denver. Pictured are representatives from Cresthill Middle School (left to right): Social Studies Teacher Scott Renker, Anna Howell, Rachel Van Gundy, Maddie Crea, Lillie Stokes and Alaina Oscai.

Nineteen students from Douglas County School District (DCSD) received top honors at the state contest, with twelve participants qualifying to advance to the national competition. Additionally, the Patricia A. Behring Colorado Teacher of the Year Award for the Junior level was presented to Rocky Heights Middle School Teacher Holly Spurlin, who was honored and proud to be recognized.

RHMS Teacher Holly Spurlin"There are hundreds of incredible teachers that do amazing things with National History Day," Spurlin exclaimed.

Spurlin was also proud of the work put forward by the kids.

"Students that participate in National History Day learn to research primary and secondary sources, and think critically about those sources to develop their own thesis," she said. "They experience academic competition, teamwork and creativity as they design a project that will prove their thesis."

While NHD revolves around historical events and figures, Spurlin points out that student learning extends beyond a traditional history lesson.

Learn more

Greater Denver Metro NHD
NHD in Colorado
National History Day

"NHD has a strong literacy component combined with project based learning."

Students are given five options to choose from as they consider how to present their research: performance, website, paper, exhibit, and documentary. Each option requires critical thinking, communication and organizational skills.

Results from the NHD State Contest are shown below. The NHD National Contest will take place June 14-18 on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park.

*National qualifier
Place/Category Project Title
Cresthill Middle School
Maddie Crea*
Rachel Van Gundy*
2nd place
Best Project Related to Jewish History
The Goering Family Division
Lillie Stokes* Best Use of Primary Sources Audrey Hepburn: Leaving the Silver Screen for the Golden Opportunity
Lillie Stokes* 2nd place
Junior Paper
Audrey Hepburn: Leaving the Silver Screen for the Golden Opportunity
Rocky Heights Middle School
Katelyn Cranney 3rd place
Junior Individual Exhibit
"And the Desert Shall Blossom as the Rose": The Leadership and Legacy of Brigham Young in the American West
Katelyn Cranney* 2nd place,
The Charles Redd Award
"And the Desert Shall Blossom as the Rose": The Leadership and Legacy of Brigham Young in the American West
Sophie Grimm* Best Project on Transportation History The Wright Brothers - A Legacy That Flies High
Bradley Hansen
Amanda Pavillard
3rd place,
Junior Group Documentary
A Relentless Leader - Susan B. Anthony
Layla Rainosek* Regional Award- Greater Denver Metro Nancy Grace Roman: The Real Meaning of NASA
Isabel Weiss Molly Brown Activism Award Eunice Kennedy Shriver: The World Changer for the Disabled
Sierra Middle School
Iike Derycke*
Caitlynn Doyle*
Megan Steinheimer*
2nd place,
Junior Group Exhibit
First Lady of the World
STEM School and Academy
Antonio Gesi* Best Essay on Western History Allan Pinkerton: Preeminent Private Eye and Leader of Modern Law Enforcement Techniques
Sasha Hall*
Simone Ong*
2nd place,
Senior Group Exhibit
Lee Kuan Yew: The Father of a Transformed Nation
Aatif Jiwani
Torin van den Bulk
Tristin van den Bulk
Rashid Zakirov
Best Use of Library of Congress Sources
NASA and Roscosmos: Uniting Nations and Building Lasting Peace
May 12, 2015 | By SCPaulsen | Category: District, High School Education, Middle School Education

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