CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Last February, when Austin Peay State University first hosted a regional Tennessee History Day competition, organizers weren’t sure what to expect. Would local middle and high school students take the event seriously, crafting projects such posters, plays and documentaries on historical events?
“What came out amongst the judging core last year was that this was a whole lot more fun and a whole lot more interesting than they thought it would be,” Dr. Kristofer Ray, APSU associate professor of history and the event coordinator, said. “Most of the projects were very imaginative and thoughtful. The students clearly put a lot of time into them.”
This month, on Feb. 25, around 300 middle and high school students, teachers, parents and supporters from seven surrounding counties will again converge on the APSU campus for the Tennessee History Day event. The University was selected last year as the host site for the newly formed North Middle Tennessee district of the national competition.
The participating students will present projects in a wide range of categories, including performance, websites, posters, papers and documentary film, all centered on this year’s theme of “Turning Points in History.” The winners in each category will go on to the state competition in Nashville in April. Students who place in that event will qualify for the National History Day Competition in College Park, Md.
“Just because it’s called ‘Tennessee History Day’ does not mean it’s about Tennessee history,” Ray said. “We will have projects ranging from the Scopes Trial in Tennessee to the Battle of Thermopylae to medieval religion. We will see projects on just about every imaginable topic.”
The National History Day competition began in the early 1970s as a way of creating excitement in students toward the subject of history. More than half a million students now participate each year in the event, which helps them develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, research and oral and written communication.
“This helps middle school and high school students realize that the humanities are essential to being a well-rounded citizen,” Ray said. “It also has the added benefit for Austin Peay in that this gives us a chance to showcase our campus to people who will be coming to college in the next five years.”
The students will arrive at the campus’s Morgan University Center early that morning and spend much of the day presenting their work to a panel of judges. Later that afternoon, an awards ceremony will be held for the top participants. The public is invited to attend the presentations and the awards ceremony.
For more information on the Tennessee History Day Competition at APSU, contact Ray at email@example.com.