HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - National History Day, hosted annually by the Department of History at The University of Southern Mississippi, is a competition that attracts students from grades 4-12 who submit projects based on historical topics. This year's theme was "Leadership and Legacy."
The prestigious competition encourages students to use their creativity to develop original historical research focused on an annual theme. Participating students competed for the opportunity to attend the nationwide event and to win scholarships and other awards. The winners at Southern Miss will represent the state of Mississippi at the national competition in College Park, Md. in June.
Attracting 135 participants from all over the Magnolia State, a number of students near Tupelo, the Starkville area, the Gulf Coast and beyond traveled to Hattiesburg for the event.
Qualifying at their local high schools to participate at National History Day at Southern Miss, the students produced exhibits, documentary films, performances, research papers and websites that aligned with this year's theme. Popular projects focused on military history and local history in Mississippi. Other projects ranged from Walt Disney to the ongoing struggle for awareness and equal treatment of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
History professor Dr. Allison Abra believes this opportunity enhances critical thinking skills and reading and writing skills that will be applicable in college and beyond.
"Ultimately, we want students in advance of their college years to really learn to appreciate history and to value the study of the past," Abra said. "These students are also cultivating a lot of really important skills that will help when they get to college because one of the most impressive things that these students do is that they use primary sources, the same way historians do."
Abra describes the students who participate in National History Day as self-motivated and self-disciplined.
"A lot of these students are some of the best and brightest in the state. We hope that after spending a day on campus and interacting with our history professors, they might one day choose to return to Southern Miss as Golden Eagles," she said.
To view a photo gallery of National History Day at Southern Miss, visithttp://artsandlettersnow.usm.edu/history-day.html.