National History Day

Hundreds of students from across Long Island  went to Hofstra University to compete at the National History Day competition on Sunday, March 26. National History Day (NHD) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1974. It provides students with the opportunity to make presentations and conduct ample research on a topic that fits in with the year’s overarching historical topic. This is done to facilitate the study and appreciation of history among students. 

This year’s theme was “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.” Students tackled this topic from many different perspectives. There were all kinds of presentations, including those presented by students from LHS’s National History Day Club. Juniors Alexandra Ioannou and Eliza Fucci worked on a presentation titled “Hatshepsut 2.0: Female Historians Chart a New Frontier in Retelling the Female King’s Opening of Frontiers in Trade.” Ioannou described the presentation as being about “the first female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and her role in breaking barriers in history.” Ioannou continued, “The project required extensive research about her life, but in the end, it was worth it!” Another pair of LHS juniors, Hiba Nadeem and Yasmine Afzali, presented a project entitled “The Navajo Code: An Unbreakable Linguistic Frontier in History.” This project was about the Navajo code that was used during World War II and declassified in 1968.  

NHD is not all about competing; it is also about spreading knowledge and giving students the research and presentation skills that they will need in future academic pursuits. “The competition aids in research skills,” Afzali explained. “[For] every project, a plethora of research is needed. This is a college skill that is very important, along with the organizational skills that come along with it.” 

This is evident in an independent study from 2011 that found that participation in NHD benefits students far beyond the competition. A National History Day article ( titled “National Program Evaluation Executive Summary” detailed how “the research examined students’ academic performance on state standardized tests, not only in history or social studies, but also in other subjects where students’ skills might transfer. The study also included performance assessments, to see whether students could apply the research, writing and critical thinking skills developed through NHD participation.” The study found that “NHD students outperform their non-NHD peers on state standardized tests in multiple subjects, including reading, science and math, as well as social studies” because they students learn to have a purposeful voice and empirical evidence to back their projects up. These factors cause the NHD students to consistently express more confidence in their research skills, public speaking, organizational abilities, knowledge of current events, work habits, and writing skills. 

Social studies teacher Laura McCarthy has moderated the NHD Club alongside library media specialist and speech and debate teacher Maureen Bertolini since 2019. During that time, McCarthy has seen the opportunities NHD brings to students: “My favorite part about the program is seeing my students become more confident throughout the process. It also brings me joy to interact with students who love learning.” McCarthy went on to share her desire to increase the membership of the club. Whenever McCarthy sees any student that she feels would excel in NHD, she tries to convince him/her to join in the next year.  

Next year’s theme for NHD will be “Turning Points in History.” Hundreds of students will present again, and the cycle of knowledge will continue.