ALEXANDRIA, VA – National History Day® (NHD), a nonprofit in College Park, Maryland, has held contests each year since 1974. These contests measure student ability to conduct research and make a presentation based on a particular theme.
The 2020 event is the first in NHD history to be held virtually. From June 14-20, it gathered the top students from around the world, and Patrick Ostermann-Healey of George Washington Middle School was one of the participants.
Ostermann-Healey wrote a paper titled “The 1939 Virginia Library Sit-In: Breaking a Barrier to Read at a Public Library. ” He drew inspiration from the Alexandria Library Sit-In Descendants Panel, an event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the sit-in that took place at what is now Barrett Branch Library.
For the paper, he received the award in African American History. His project was very appropriate for this year’s theme: “Breaking Barriers in History.” And the theme echoed this time in history as well.
“To make it to the National Contest in a normal year is a remarkable achievement,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “Given the added challenges facing students because of the coronavirus and nationwide school closures, I am even more impressed by what they have done this year. They have shown an incredible level of perseverance amid adversity, and I am confident we will continue to see great things from all of these students.”
More than 300 historians and education professionals served as judges for the students’ work, and as with all other aspects of the contest this year, the judging occurred remotely online. More than 100 students from across the country were awarded cash prizes between $500 and $2,000,