Throughout the years of Connecticut History Day, we have encountered many extraordinary students who have learned valuable lessons throughout the creation of their projects. Here are what two of our students, who created a project together, have learned from participating in Connecticut History Day:
I learned many lessons from working on my group performance for National History Day that stayed with me. I learned how to work effectively in a group setting; how to prepare for a public presentation; how to write an engaging piece of written work that incorporates several people’s input. This experience also improved my public speaking skills, something that I use in my work today. I learned a lot about stage presence, as well as how to deliver an engaging monologue. I appreciated both my group members’ advice and our teacher’s invaluable feedback after watching us prepare and rehearse multiple times. Rehearsals allowed our group to become really passionate about presenting our topic while having fun, too.
Looking back, I see that it was a really helpful experience due to the fact that I later became heavily involved in collegiate student groups and clubs where public speaking and presenting was an integral part of daily live. Not to mention the countless hours spent working in group to develop campus events about diversity and social justice.
Brianna Dau was a 2011 National History Day participant. She graduated from Hartford’ Classical Magnet School in 2012. Brianna attended Stonehill College where she studied Psychology and Communications and was heavily involved in student activities and Stonehill’s Intercultural Affairs Office. She graduated from Stonehill in 2016. Brianna currently works for a non-profit in Los Angeles, helping low income and homeless individuals find jobs.
While I had to reference what the 2011 History Day theme was, Debate and Diplomacy in History, I still vividly remember the dialogue from the performance we wrote; a ton of information about early radio censorship; and most importantly how to conduct historical research. The latter is a skill that helped me for the rest of high school and saved my life in college on many a research project. It also spurred a lifelong interest in censorship and law.
When my 11th grade teacher let us find something that we were interested in and then worked with us to shape this vague topic into something that fit the theme (i.e. we wanted to study the 1920s and she helped us to reach the debate of radio censorship), she gave us ownership of our project. This was the first time in my academic career that I felt I had a hand in my own education.
As a person who was a not-so-good student in high school, I loved working on this project enough that I urged my group to take our project to regionals, then states, and then luckily nationals. While we didn’t even come close to winning anything on the national level, History Day was one of the best academic experiences that I’ve ever had.
Alexa Esposito was a 2011 National History Day participant. She graduated from Hartford’s Classical Magnet School in 2012. Alexa studied Classics and English at Hofstra University, graduating in 2016. While at Hofstra she was a member of the History Club on campus. She works in the Children’s Department of a public library in Southern Connecticut.