Birchwood Students Win National History Day Competition

Birchwood School of Hawken students recently competed in the National History Day Contest, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, June 14-20. Rebecca Chin and Abby Gemechu won 4th place for their website on the visual arts of the Harlem Renaissance. Angela D’Souza earned 9th place for her documentary on Myra Merrick, the first female physician in Ohio in the 1800s.

The 2020 contest theme was Breaking Barriers in History, and this year’s unprecedented circumstances added an extra layer of meaning to the theme. Ten Birchwood students joined more than half a million of their peers globally who completed projects in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website.

After completing a project, students compete at district and state levels. The top students from all 50 states, D.C., U.S. territories, and international schools are invited to compete in the National Contest.

“To make it to the National Contest in a normal year is a remarkable achievement,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “Given the added challenges facing students because of the coronavirus and nationwide school closures, I am even more impressed by what they have done this year. They have shown an incredible level of perseverance amid adversity, and I am confident we will continue to see great things from all of these students. The critical thinking and research skills learned through competing in NHD, especially now, will help these students achieve success in college and their careers.”

More than 300 historians and education professionals served as judges for the students’ work, and as with all other aspects of the contest this year, the judging was conducted remotely online. More than 100 students from across the country were awarded cash prizes between $500 and $2,000, each, for superior work in particular judging categories.