Fourteen students from Sacred Heart School, Bayside, competed in the local History Day Competition, and half of them made it to the state finals.
Each year, more than half a million students participate in National History Day by choosing a historical topic and conducting a research presentation. This presentation is not simply a few weeks of work or even a semester. Students conducting this research commit themselves to it for the entire year.
From Sacred Heart, Jenna Alma, Robyn Alma, Siena DeBenedittis and Christine McLaughlin won third place in the state competition as well as the Ancient Order of Hibernian’s Award for Irish History for their research on the Irish Potato Famine. Gabrielle Vance, Kathryn Pender and Maria Caminiti will move on to present their work at National History Day in Washington, D.C.
“I am proud of Sacred Heart’s achievement over the past few years because they have consistently won awards in competition with the finest public and private schools in New York City,” said Anthony Biscione, deputy diocesan superintendent of schools. “Advancing beyond to the State and National level is phenomenal. I hope that Sacred Heart’s success spurs more Catholic elementary schools and high schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn to enter the competition.”
Dennis Farrell, principal at Sacred Heart, points out that the students “meet regularly and even in the summer. They give up their time every single week. These are 12- and 14-year-old children who are perceived as not being interested in anything, and they follow through for a year. To me, the beauty of this project is that life-lesson: You commit yourself to something, and you follow through. That’s the biggest thing that we can give our children.”
This year’s theme was “Turning Points in History.” Students choose a topic that fits the theme, and they are given options such as creating a website, doing a performance interpretation, creating a video documentary, a presentation board and more. Additionally they must write a research paper, write an extensive bibliography, present their projects and field questions from a panel of judges that they do not know.
Farrell thanked eighth-grade teacher and project moderator MaryAnn Cooke, who is present after-school to provide students opportunities to do their research. She accompanied the students to every competition and is looking forward to nationals.