A student participates in National History Day in Colorado program May 4.

Months of planning and preparation came to an end this past Saturday at the National History Day in Colorado finals held at CU Denver. Hundreds of students from across the state acted, recited and explained their projects that captured turning points in history.

Patrick Jones performed for the first time as a high school student. He presented Arculanus: Turning Point in Dentistry for All to Know. Jones, from Colorado Springs, picked the topic because he wants to become a dentist.

Christopher Arehart of Boulder took on the role of father time and explained how the atomic clock was transformational. He said he chose his topic because he’s been obsessed with knowing the exact time of day.

Why students selected their ideas was only part of the overall presentation but after watching their performances, you could see the passion for history coming alive in their work. Judges shared that this year’s projects were all very strong.

Though it all comes together on one day in May, National History Day in Colorado is actually a year-long program taking place in social study classrooms throughout the state, supported by faculty and staff in CU Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. About 15,000 students from across the states create new history projects each year. Two thousand compete in regional contests where winners qualify to attend the state contest. More than 700 students in middle school and elementary school competed on Saturday.

The winners in each of the five categories – exhibit, performance, documentary, website and research paper – now go on to represent Colorado at the national competition next month at the University of Maryland where 3,000 students from across the United States will compete.

“The National History Day in Colorado academic program is a great way for teachers to engage their students in the study of history and to understand its impact on the future,” said Kendra Black, state coordinator of History Day in Colorado. “Students are excited to choose their own topics and to present their work creatively in a format that suits their interests and talents. The History Day program is a fun way for students to master the literacy and social studies skills in the Colorado Academic Standards.”

May 4, 2013, was proclaimed National History Day in Colorado by Gov. Hickenlooper in recognition of the statewide competition.

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