Young historians advance to national competition in June

2016-NHD-theme Local youths were among the nearly 70 students chosen to represent Tennessee at National History Day later this summer. Those students placed first or second in their categories at Tennessee History Day on April 9.

Tennessee History Day participants entered projects in five categories: documentaries, exhibits, performances, websites and papers.

While projects must relate to the annual theme, students are encouraged to be creative when choosing a topic. The 2016 theme is “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange.”

Ninety-seven students received medals for their efforts, 27 students were awarded special prizes, two educators were recognized as teachers of the year, and one teacher was named Behring Teacher Ambassador.

Local winners include:

  • Swati Kinger and Reethu Krishnan of Collierville High School, who placed second in the Senior Group Documentary category with “Thinking Outside the Pox: The History of the World’s First Vaccine.” Their teachers are Michelle Martin and Catherine Hammons.
  • McKenzie Desio of First Assembly Christian School in Cordova, who placed first in the Senior Individual Exhibit category with “A Question of Loyalty: Encountering Racism on All Fronts.” The teacher is Victoria Gast.
  • Scott Bowden of First Assembly Christian School, who placed second in the Senior Individual Exhibit category with “The Deadly Exchange.” The teacher is Sherrie Hopper.
  • Hannah Shelton of First Assembly Christian School, who placed first in the Senior Individual Performance category with “Words are Not Enough: Martha Graham and the Post War Modern Dance Movement.” The teacher is Sherrie Hopper.
  • Tess Emerson, Meghan Fleming and Arabella Hamm, all of St. Agnes Academy-St. Dominic School in Memphis, who placed third in the Senior Group Website category with “History of 1920’s Film: Impact of Filmmaking.” The teacher is Mark McDonald.
  • Samuel Paul and Camden Estes of First Assembly Christian School, who placed third in the Junior Group Website category for “Apollo 11.” The teacher is Victoria Gast.
  • Caroline Finch of St. George’s Independent School in Collierville, who placed second in the Junior Individual Paper category with “Lewis and Clark.” The teacher is Traci Erlandson.

Bartlett competitor

A Bartlett student, Bushra Ali, was also among the competitors who made it to the state-level competition but did not advance to nationals. Ali competed with fellow student Wissal Boudaoud with the entry, “Little Rock 9” in the Junior Group Exhibit category, taking first place in the West Tennessee district contest.

They are students at Pleasant View School in Memphis. Their teacher is Ashir Kirk.

The national competition

NHD-National-History-Day-loThis year, National History Day will be June 12-16 on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland.

“I am proud of all our students,” said Tennessee History Day coordinator Jennifer C. Core. “I’m impressed by how enthusiastic they are about their selected topics and how effectively they present their findings to a sophisticated audience. I always learn something from our students and I know the judges do as well. This year our students researched topics ranging from World War II prisoners of war to Ada Lovelace to Suleiman the Magnificent.”

The judges at Saturday’s competition — including university professors, graduate students, high school teachers, librarians, archivists and other public historians — picked the winners from the 152 submitted projects.

Tennessee History Day was coordinated by the Tennessee Historical Society, with support provided by the Tennessee Department of State, Humanities Tennessee, First Tennessee Foundation, the Memorial Foundation and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“We have a terrific group of students who will be representing Tennessee at the national competition in Maryland,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “I know they will have a great experience there. With students like these, Tennessee’s future is bright.”

For more information about the History Day program in Tennessee, visit or contact Jennifer Core, History Day’s statewide coordinator, at (615) 741-8934 or via e-mail at

National History Day’s social media links