Local Students to Compete at 2021 National History Day Contest


Press Release

Bradley Sweeney (13) and Leah Sweeney (11) who attend Helper Middle School will represent Utah in the National History Day® (NHD) National Contest, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, June 13-19. 

The 2021 contest theme was “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.” In the midst of a global pandemic when many students across the country used new communication tools to attend school and pursue their studies, this year’s circumstances provided added context for the topics chosen to address the annual theme.

Bradley and Leah created an exhibit project titled “A Battle Turned Massacre: Communication the Key in Determining the Legacy Left at Bear River.” The project addresses the communication between the LDS Church, U.S. Government and the Northwestern Shoshone Tribe and how a battle/massacre ensued as the communication broke down. 

“Through the NHD process, students build essential skills for success in college and career,” said NHD Utah State Coordinator Dr. Wendy Rex-Atzet. “The research, literacy and analytical skills they gain translate to future courses such as civics, English and STEM.” 

Bradley and Leah joined more than half a million students globally who completed historical research projects as part of the NHD program. In Utah, the process begins in local schools from Logan to St. George. National qualifiers were selected at the annual NHD Utah State Contest in April. At nationals, Utah’s top students will compete with delegates from all 50 states, U.S. territories and international schools. 

“To make it to the National Contest is always a remarkable achievement,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “Given the added challenges this year due to the ongoing pandemic, I was heartened to see NHD students prove themselves once more and persevere despite adversity.” 

About NHD Utah: 

National History Day has operated continuously in Utah since 1980. Developed at Utah State University, it was transferred to the Utah Division of State History in 2014. District and regional programs operate with the support of university and community partners throughout the state. NHD Utah receives financial support from Utah Humanities, UServe Utah and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation. Participation is free and open to students in 4th through 12th grade from public, private, charter, online and home schools. Learn more at https://history.utah.gov/utah-history-day. For more information: Wendy Rex-Atzet, State Coordinator, wratzet@utah.gov 

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 Diana Davis Spencer Foundation and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. For more information, visit nhd.org. 

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