NCHD has a new home at Carleton University

After a successful inaugural year, National Capital History Day is pleased to announce a second year of the contest and a new home at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

The competition is open to high-school students across the Ottawa region and will take place on May 1, 2015 in Carleton’s new River Building, allowing students to showcase their work in a state-of-the-art facility.

“At Carleton, professors in journalism, history, arts, French, English, film studies, and Canadian studies are all looking forward to welcome on our campus the region’s high school students and their teachers, and to see and watch the fruits of their many projects on historical matters,” says Dominique Marshall, Chair of Carleton’s history department and a member of the National Capital History Day Advisory Board. “In return, we have many ideas in store to share our own knowledge and practices with these inventive and thoughtful apprentices.”

The new partnership with Carleton opens up new possibilities for collaboration between the region’s many secondary schools and the university — the event is endorsed and supported by both the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

“National Capital History Day takes a cross-disciplinary approach to history, so our new partnership with Carleton allows us to really help students explore that type of academic inquiry at a post-secondary institution that is known for exceptional programs in many disciplines,” says Ruth Dunley, a member of the National Capital History Day steering committee that includes teachers Kristin Riddell and Kathy Scheepers from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, Ruth Bouttell from the Ottawa Catholic School Board, registrar Alison Peters and independent historian (and Carleton MA grad) Erin Gurski.

“National Capital History Day provides our students and staff with a tremendous opportunity to make the social sciences come alive,” says Pino Buffone, Superintendent of Curriculum at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. “It emphasizes the importance of 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, research, creativity and analysis.”

Students in Grades 9 to 12 are eligible to submit projects in one of five categories: essay, exhibit, performance, website and documentary. This range, says Buffone, who is also on the National Capital History Day Advisory Board, allows students to “really be themselves.”

“Students who love to write can submit essays; students who are more visual learners can enter exhibits; students who are kinetic learners can create performances; students who learn best through the utilization of technology can develop websites or share documentaries. There is truly something for everyone at National Capital History Day.”

Student projects are judged by panels of volunteer judges with expertise in history, journalism, education and other professional fields related to the various categories (professionals in film and broadcast are often on panels that judge the documentary category, for example). All students are interviewed by judges and each competitor receives written feedback about their work from the judging panel.

Students may enter projects about any time period and place, allowing them to research topics that are of personal interest.

“National Capital History Day does for the history and drama student what a really great science fair does for a science student — engage them in a meaningful opportunity to learn and explore something they are genuinely excited about,” says Katie Lewis-Prieur, creative arts consultant with responsibilities for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Studies in the Ottawa Catholic School Board and a member of the National Capital History Day Advisory Board.

The event is based on the National History Day competition in the United States, which draws thousands of young historians to its annual national contest in Maryland. The American organization has worked closely with National Capital History Day, allowing the contest and its materials to be adapted for the Canadian classroom.

“National Capital History Day has adapted the U.S.-based National History Day for Canadian students and teachers with great success,” says Kim Fortney, deputy director of the American program. “In just one year, the program has established an expectation of excellence in organization and in providing a high-energy experience for participants. I am eager to see this program develop further in the second year and beyond.”

The initiative is supported through sponsorships provided by TD Bank Group, Carleton University, Carleton University’s Department of History, Fulbright Canada and Ottawa Walking Tours, with additional financial support from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

The deadline for students to register projects is April 1, 2015.

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