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For Immediate Release 
April 6, 2001 
Contact: Jim Henderson 
207-287-5793

Maine Students Qualify for National History Contest


AUGUSTA -- At the Maine History Day competition held on March 29th in Jewett Hall at the University of Maine at Augusta, sixty-seven students representing eight Maine schools won the opportunity to match history knowledge with the best America has to offer.  The students, along with their parents and teachers, have qualified to participate in the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland, June 10-14th.  This year's theme is "Frontiers in History: People, Places, and Ideas."

Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky declared that, “This was an outstanding Maine History Day event in recent memory.  I am confident that our students will have a great experience at the National Contest and will represent their state and schools with distinction.”

Over 175 students from 11 schools participated in the Maine History Day competition.  Scarborough High School fielded a large team and captured six of the first and second place awards required, to qualify for the National event.  Bonny Eagle High School of Standish also took five of the top awards.  The other participating schools were Bonny Eagle Middle School in Buxton, Brunswick Junior High School, Cheverus High School in Portland, Erskine Academy in China, Lake Region Middle School in Naples, Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, Middle School of the Kennebunks in Kennebunk, Shaw Junior High School in Gorham and Skowhegan Area Middle School. 

The Maine History Day Contest, coordinated by the Maine State Archives, was supported by several major sponsors: the Margaret Chase Smith Library, the Joshua Chamberlain Civil War Round Table, the Maine State Library, the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Humanities Council, the Maine Social Studies Council, the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick, and the University of Maine at Augusta.

The History Day program, at both the state and national levels, adds a new dimension to teaching and learning history, and rewards student initiative, creativity, and scholarship.  Its most important purpose: to change the way history is taught and learned by challenging students to conduct historical inquiry and by providing a positive learning environment in which students’ work is evaluated outside the classroom.

“The Department of Secretary of State has sponsored a variety of programs under the theme of ‘Fostering Youth Involvement’ (FYI)” stated Secretary Gwadosky.  “History Day, in addition to our Student Mock Election, Eighth Grade Citizenship Award, and Constitution Essay and Poster Contest, provides a great opportunity for young people to develop their own sense of place in our country’s history.” 

National History Day is an important opportunity for schools, teachers, and students.  Each year more than 600,000 students and 50,000 teachers across the country participate in teacher workshops and student competitions.

The Maine program has an informative Internet web site with research tips at www.state.me.us/sos/arc/historyday/histhome.htm.  It features a list of participating schools, contest details, prizes and awards, and research sources.

To foster creativity and imagination, students select from a variety of formats to present their entries: papers, tabletop displays, media presentations, and performances.  Required research develops analytic abilities, as well as reading and comprehension skills.  An interdisciplinary approach is encouraged, integrating arts, economics, sciences, and other disciplines.  Problem solving skills and teamwork are stressed.  Teams of educators and historians judge entries on historical quality, presentation, and adherence to theme.  The experience of History Day enriches students' academic knowledge and practical skills.

The competition provides teachers with a means to encourage students to expand their efforts beyond the classroom experience.  Maine National History Day provides an excellent assessment tool; integrates the study of history with other disciplines, including writing, the arts, and other social sciences; supplies curricular aids (lesson plans, bibliographic guides); supports professional development through workshops and summer institutes; encourages interaction with academic historians, librarians, archivists, and public historians; involves families and communities in support of education.