By Greg Seiter
History class became a hands-on learning experience for four Greenwood Christian Academy students this year as they worked together to create a documentary that ultimately earned them public recognition through a National History Day in Indiana South Region contest at Franklin College. Recognized as finalists at the competition, seniors Grace Dixon, Taylor Ratliff, Gabriel Nelson and Garrett Wright earned the right to compete in the NHDI state contest at the University of Indianapolis but unfortunately weren’t able to attend.
“This was the first time these students have been introduced to this competition,” says John Wooden, first-year instructor at the school, who teaches various history and social studies classes there. “It gave them a chance to present themselves in a professional way.”
Given the option to select their own subject matter for the competition, Dixon, Ratliff, Nelson and Wright decided to focus on ancient Rome and ultimately named their project “Roaming Around Rome.”
Though it was a new experience for Greenwood Christian Academy students, the Indiana Historical Society has been conducting the NHDI contest for approximately 18 years. “The students get an opportunity to explore something in history that matters to them and then create a project that best suits their personal learning style,” says Bethany Hrachovec, coordinator, Learning and National History Day.
According to Hrachovec, the ultimate goal of the contest is that students learn something new and enjoy the process. “They gain valuable real-world skills through a fun project tailored to them,” she says. “They get experience in creative problem solving, public speaking, critical thinking, understanding source bias and more. These are skills they aren’t tested for but are incredibly valuable to students as they transition to the next stage of their academic and personal careers.”