National History Day competition set for students around region

Several hundred middle and high school students will come together Saturday, March 17, for an annual National History Day competition at Western Carolina University.

The event, hosted by the WCU History Department, takes place from noon until 5 p.m. Organized by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Western Office, the competition is based on projects that students create, such as exhibits, performances, documentaries and websites, based on a central theme.

This year’s theme is “Conflict and Compromise in History.” Students from throughout Western North Carolina will examine and reflect on periods in history, whether local, state, national or international, when these societal changes occurred. WCU history faculty and undergraduate and graduate students all will be participating in the planning, organizing and judging of the event.

Honor Sachs

Students will look at what happened at a period in time because of conflict or compromise, as well as how it occurred and why it happened, and what the consequences were, said Honor Sachs, WCU assistant professor of history and an event organizer. The topic is particularly relevant in today’s political climate and should prove insightful, as students will have to view history from multiple perspectives, Sachs said.

Regional winners will go on to compete in Raleigh for statewide honors and possibly advance to a national competition. The program designed to promote an interest in history among students and to assist teachers in teaching history more effectively. The program helps students develop skills in historical research, analysis, critical thinking, organization and presentation, as well as improve reading and writing skills.

Jeff Futch, regional supervisor for Natural and Cultural Resources’ Western Office, explained that students can work alone or in a group, decide what they would like to create, then present and defend their projects in front of judges who ask them questions about their research.

Started in 1974, National History Day is an academic program that introduces students to the study of history. After evaluations and judging at district and state events, top-ranking students are then selected to participate in the national contest in College Park, Maryland, each June.

For more information on National History Day events at WCU, contact Jessie Swigger, director of WCU’s Public History Program, at, or Sachs at