Seventh-grade scholars at Hiawatha College Prep (HCP) on Feb. 17 had the opportunity to show the world their passions, personal stories and academic interests during the school’s History Day competition.

History Day is an inter-disciplinary research project for students in grades 6-12. Students choose a topic that relates to an annual theme and develop their research into one of five presentation categories: research paper, exhibit, documentary, performance or website. Students enter their projects into History Day competitions at school, regional, state and national levels.

This year’s History Day theme is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History. Scholars at Hiawatha College Prep took this opportunity to research projects like child labor laws, the prohibition era, the pink triangle, the Rosenberg trial and more. Volunteer judges from across the state came to the school on Feb. 17 to interview the scholars about their topics.

History Day 2016
History Day 2016

Many scholars took the opportunity to explore topics that were personally relevant to their lives. One scholar researched Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a former U.S. policy that barred LGBT people from serving in the military. She said the issue is personal to her because she has friends who identify as LGBT.

Don't Ask Don't Tell History Day Presentation
Don't Ask Don't Tell History Day Presentation

Another scholar researched The Khmer Rouge, a political party that ruled Cambodia from 1968 to 1979 that is known for orchestrating the Cambodian Genocide. Asked why she chose the topic, the scholar gave a detailed second-hand account of how her grandmother fled the country to save her own life.

Khmer Rouge History Day Presentation

When Danielle Andrews, HCP teacher, started to coordinate National History Day for scholars, she was excited about the possibilities. Some scholars who started their research projects in December saw it as just another class project, but as they delved deeper into their chosen topics the projects became sources of immense pride. “I’ve put a lot of work into making this day happen for scholars,” said Danielle. “I know it is worth it because they light up when they talk about their topics. They are so alive.”