South San Francisco, CA February 24, 2016 Submitted by John Horgan, SSFUSD
South San Francisco High School is the only school on the San Mateo Peninsula to offer the History Day program to all of its juniors enrolled in U.S. History. This year will mark the second year the school is hosting a schoolwide competition since bringing the program back five years ago. This year’s three-day school competition is Monday, February 29 to Wednesday, March 2.
“We originally re-introduced the History Day program to help prepare our students for their senior capstone project. I started with the AP U.S. History Students and then expanded it to include all juniors. This year our AP World students are competing too, so we’re very excited,” said Rhonda Clements, Social Science Department Chair and History Day Coordinator.
National History Day is an international program where students participate in a year-long research project that teaches students about the historical process. This year’s theme is Exploration, Encounter and Exchange and student-driven research topics incorporate a variety of disciplines and include: Silicon Valley: The Exploration and Exchange of Technology, The Feminist Art Movement, Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution, and the Portola Expedition. Students conduct research using primary and secondary sources to create individual or group exhibits, websites, documentaries and theatrical performances. They also complete a research paper in the fall to prepare them for college-level writing.
South San Francisco’s students have been very successful. Last year, one student’s documentary group won the state of California and placed 4th at Nationals in College Park, Maryland. “We were so close to medaling last year, and each year our projects get better and better,” explained Clements, “This program offers students the opportunity to explore a topic that excites and interests them, while also supporting our Common Core initiatives.”
Former student participants, teachers and community members judge the projects based on national criteria. Students who are finalists in the competition will go on to compete at county, state, and hopefully nationals in the summer.