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WHY BEING A JUDGE AT NATIONAL HISTORY DAY IS SO IMPORTANT

Join us in supporting youth historians from around the state of New Mexico! Volunteer to be a National History Day judge this upcoming school year. 

Photo caption: Aeronautics, a field for young women to pursue too! Photograph by Abby Boling

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SERVING AS A NATIONAL HISTORY DAY JUDGE

Judging is one of the most important aspects of the National History Day program, and it cannot be done without a large group of dedicated volunteers. What are the requirements to judge? Only a desire to support students. A background in history or education is helpful, but it is not necessary. New Mexico’s National History Day program will provide the training that judges need to understand the program.

Training consists of an online component to help familiarize judges with the detailed evaluation rubric provided by National History Day. In-person training the day of the contests goes over the role of the judges, ways to evaluate students, contest rules and other information necessary for a smooth contest. In 2023 / 2024, New Mexico NHD will also be providing half-day training workshops for teachers and potential judges.

Contest organizers work to put judges in their category of interest. For example, someone who has a background in theater may be most interested in judging performances, while a filmmaker might be most interested in judging documentaries. Middle school and high school students are judged separately, so those more comfortable providing feedback to older or younger students can also be accommodated.

Judges spend time before the contests evaluating students’ process papers (how they chose their topic and went about researching and creating the project) and their annotated bibliographies. The day of the contest, teams of three judges spend about 15 minutes evaluating each entry and interviewing the students about their work. Then, after enjoying a hearty lunch, they provide feedback on the students’ evaluation forms and rank the entries.

WHY WE VOLUNTEER AS JUDGES

Raffi E. Andonian, historian: “I judge for National History Day because I support the unique combination of research and creativity that NHD requires of students. Most of these kids will not go on to work in the field of history as a profession, but the value of thinking historically will remain with them. They are driven by the thrill of competition to elevate their performance as they progress through each round (and possibly each year), and along the way they discover that history is not dusty and boring but dynamic and relevant – and fun! History is more than a trivial curiosity, and the skills they develop to research, synthesize, and communicate will remain with them throughout their careers. As citizens, the students touched by NHD will learn to inquire, analyze, and consider multiple perspectives. I love witnessing this growth process and playing a contributing role in their journey as learners during these formative years – that’s why I volunteer as a judge for NHD in multiple states and at the national competition, too. Their efforts and creativity inspire me!”

Dr. June Reed, retired New Mexico educator and principal: “As a schoolteacher, administrator, professor, and educational consultant for more than 50 years, I have a passion for the field. Being a judge at both regional and state National History Day contests has shown me that good education is alive and well for history students in New Mexico.

“To watch young people show the projects that they have developed for the program and to observe the skills they have developed during this process is such a pleasure. The students choose their own topics to fit the annual theme. They learn how to research and use technology, and they learn critical thinking skills as they analyze the research. They acquire problem-solving skills and work to see all sides of an issue. They exhibit long-term planning and are able to relate their projects to the world today. They become experts on their topics.

“As they show their projects to the judges, the students’ creativity shines, whether in a documentary, performance, exhibit, web site, or paper.

“This entire process meets many New Mexico state standards for social studies, reading, writing, and technology. It has been an amazing event for me to participate in, as I see the students develop these skills along with confidence, poise, and presentation abilities.”

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NATIONAL HISTORY DAY

EVENTS, NEWS, AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

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NATIONAL HISTORY DAY

Helping student historians and their teachers study the past to inform the present and shape the future.

ABOUT NATIONAL HISTORY DAY® (NHD):

NHD is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, that seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD is sponsored in part by, HISTORY®, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Crown Family Foundation, The Better Angels Society, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, and the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation. For more information, visit NHD.org.

ABOUT NATIONAL HISTORY DAY® IN NEW MEXICO:

History Day in New Mexico is open to elementary, middle and high school students statewide. The program is organized and sponsored by the New Mexico Humanities Council. NMHC offers online and in-person professional development for teachers as well as student events.