Students compete in the 42nd annual National History Day virtual contest

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BROOKING – Forty-nine students from South Dakota participated in the National History Day Virtual National Contest. The national contest typically takes place over the course of a week at the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland, but this year the contest was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the June 12-18 competition, the students’ projects were judged against nearly 3,000 other exhibitors from 58 affiliate programs (including every state, Washington D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and international schools in South Korea, South Asia, Central America and China). This year’s contest theme was “Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences.” To replace in-person workshops and project showcases, students and teachers could participate in live and recorded opening and closing ceremonies, workshops, webinars and virtual project showcases at museums in Washington, D.C.

The students who participated in the national contest were the top entries in the state contest that was held April 13 in Brookings. To participate in a National History Day contest, students create a historical research project using time in and out of school. Students are fully in charge of their National History Day projects as they pick their own topics, if they want to work as an individual or in a group and what kind of project they want to make (documentary, exhibit, paper, performance or website).

Over 400 historians and educational professionals evaluated projects and selected winners and scholarships. This year, South Dakota students received the following awards and honors:

 Adeline Lyons from Harding County Middle School received the Junior Outstanding Affiliate Award for South Dakota. The individual performance was titled “The Success, Failures, and Their Consequences through Debate and Diplomacy: The Boy, the General, and the President – Ulysses S. Grant.”

• Jalyssa Miller from Rapid City Christian School received the Senior Outstanding Affiliate Award for South Dakota with the individual performance “Melba Pattillo Beals.”

• Nathan Arens from Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls was selected to participate in a virtual documentary showcase through the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The senior individual documentary was titled “John Brown’s Death and How It Caused the End of Slavery.”

• Mollie Kruse from Ben Reifel Middle School in Sioux Falls was selected to participate in a virtual exhibit showcase through the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  The junior individual exhibit was titled “Who Owns the Black Hills.”

Full results for the contest can be found at For more information on National History Day in South Dakota, visit or

NHD is a nonprofit education organization in College Park, Maryland. Established in 1974, NHD offers yearlong academic programs that engage over half a million middle and high school students around the world annually in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. These research-based projects are entered into contests at the local and affiliate levels, where the top student projects have the opportunity to advance to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD also seeks to improve the quality of history education by providing professional development opportunities and curriculum materials for educators. NHD is sponsored in part by, HISTORY, Jostens, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, the Joe Weider Foundation and the WEM 2000 Foundation of the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation. For more information, visit


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