DES MOINES – More than 60 students from across the state took top honors at the National History Day in Iowa contest this week, earning a trip to the NHD National Finals at the University of Maryland to compete for scholarships and prizes.


Shriya Magatapalli, Quinn Lohse and Ellie Pelletier, students at Prairieview School in Waukee, were among the 66 national qualifiers.


National History Day is a year-long academic enrichment program that challenges students to research, develop and present papers, exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances about historical issues, ideas, people and events related to an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History.”


“National History Day is a powerful program that helps teachers and students engage in learning opportunities beyond the classroom,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “Through this program, students explore history and learn how to conduct high-level research as they develop their projects. These are skills they’ll use during academic years and beyond as they become lifelong learners with successful careers. We congratulate our National History Day students and national qualifiers, and we thank their teachers and parents for their support.”


This year’s 66 national qualifiers included students from 21 different schools - a new record - plus two home-school students from Spencer.


Iowa’s state winners now move on to the 2017 National History Day Contest June 11-15 at the University of Maryland, where they will compete against nearly 3,000 students from the United States, Guam, American Samoa, Department of Defense Schools in Europe, and international schools in China, Korea and South Asia.


More than half a million middle and high school students around the world participate in the program annually. In Iowa, nearly 8,000 students participated at the school level and about 2,500 advanced to compete in 12 different district contests. The 66 winners announced today emerged from a field of about 600 students who competed in the state contest Monday at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.


The National History Day program includes a Junior Division (grades 6-8), Senior Division (grades 9-12), and a non-competitive Youth Division for students in grades 4-5. Students learn important literacy skills and how to conduct research using primary, secondary, community and statewide resources. Working individually or collaboratively in groups of two to five, they develop the following attributes that are critical for future success:


- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills


- Research and reading skills


- Oral and written communication and presentation skills


- Self-esteem and confidence


- A sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process


The National History Day in Iowa program has been coordinated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, since 1994 and is sponsored by the State Historical Society, Inc., and the History Channel.