Bronxville High School sophomores – Charlotte Dotson, Sabrina Mellinghoff, Emily Perry, Sofia Riccarini and Grace Sperber – won first place in the group exhibit category at the national finals of the 2018 National History Day Contest, held on June 10-14 at the University of Maryland.
The five students – who had been conducting extensive historical research for several months – represented the state of New York after winning first place at the statewide competition, held on April 23 in Cooperstown, New York. At the national competition, they competed against winners from all 50 states and U.S. territories and presented their original exhibit, “Arusha Accords: A Genocidal Compromise.” The judges included college professors and historians who had firsthand experience on the ground in Rwanda after the genocide.
Dana Landesman and Christina Reidel, who brought the program to Bronxville High School, as well as Bill Meyer, have coached the students throughout the school year in presentation and historical research skills.
“This is a great accomplishment for the Bronxville School and speaks to our emphasis on engaged citizenship, critical thinking and analysis that occurs in every content area in every grade,” Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Mara Koetke said.
Each year, students display their authentic work in one of five ways – paper, website, documentary, performance or exhibit – on a specific theme. This year’s National History Day theme was “Conflict and Compromise,” which drew more than 600,000 participants nationwide.
In addition, Dotson, Mellinghoff, Perry, Riccarini and Sperber worked with renowned performance coach Karen DeMauro and design consultant Robert Ko, who provided them with individualized strategies and targeted feedback to help enhance their presentation skills. They also took feedback from every level of competition, including local, regional and state, and incorporated it into their work. First place winners are named National Endowment for the Humanities Scholars.
“The work students put into these projects is astounding,” National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn said. “To make it to the national contest is a remarkable achievement. Less than 1 percent of all projects make it to this level. It requires a superb level of research and critical thinking skills. I am confident that we will continue to see great things from all of these students because the skills learned through competing in NHD help prepare students for success in college and career.”
Special thanks to the Bronxville School Foundation for generously supporting this effort.