Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old State House receives grant to continue Connecticut History Day

A press release from the Connecticut Network:

History Day in Connecticut

Hartford – The Connecticut Humanities Council has awarded a $48,000 grant to the Connecticut Public Affairs Network in support of History Day in Connecticut, the state’s affiliate of the National History Day program. History Day in Connecticut is co-sponsored by Connecticut’s Old State House (which is managed for the Connecticut General Assembly by CPAN) and the Connecticut Historical Society. Each year, approximately 1,000 Connecticut students in grades 6-12 and 90 teachers participate in this rigorous academic program. Over 300 Connecticut residents, including educators, public officials, History Day alumnae and others serve as volunteer judges.

“We are thrilled to provide support for the History Day in Connecticut program,” states Laurie Rayner, Director of CHC’s Heritage Revitalization Fund. “This is an amazing program that allows students to become historians and develop an understanding of the past while they cultivate important lifelong skills; in that way it supports the Connecticut Humanities Council’s own goals of bringing lifelong learning and the humanities to Connecticut residents.”

Since the inception of their partnership in 2009, the Old State House and CHS have worked closely with local historical societies throughout the state to engage History Day students and teachers more dynamically with primary documents and hands-on research. In addition to opening up new possibilities for discovery by participants, this process also supports the Old State House’s larger goal of nurturing critical thinking and reinforcing the civics curriculum in the classroom. They also conducted a series of workshops to help participants and their mentors develop strong, meaningful projects. The result: 58 Connecticut participants and one Connecticut winner at last month’s National History Day program at the University of Maryland.

“National History Day sets the bar very high for scholarly research, critical thinking, teamwork and professional presentation; it’s no small compliment to be invited there, let alone to win,” according to Rebecca Taber-Conover, Public Programs Coordinator at Connecticut’s Old State House and co-coordinator for History Day in Connecticut. “We are so collectively proud of every Connecticut History Day participant, and I would invite everyone in the state to visit the Old State House between now and the end of August to see some of this exceptional work for themselves.”

A special Highlight History Day exhibit at Connecticut’s Old State House showcases many History Day projects entered in competition this year, and is open through August 31st.

A recent evaluation study found that students who participate in History Day achieve better results in high-stakes academic testing in all disciplines. Participants develop strong writing skills, learn 21st century college-and-career- ready skills, and are critical thinkers who can digest, analyze and synthesize information. As one participating teacher shared, “It is a fantastic program that motivates students to achieve historical truth through a competitive and fun medium.”

History Day in Connecticut is one of 56 affiliate programs of National History Day. It is a nationally recognized program that makes history come alive by engaging students in grades 6-12 in the discovery of the historic, cultural, and social experiences of the past. Students choose their topics based on an annual theme and after researching their topics, they present their findings in original papers, performances, documentaries, websites and exhibits. Submissions can be individual or as part of a group, through a school, home school or as an individual.

District competitions are held in late March and winners are invited to participate in the State History Day contest in early May. Students who place 1st or 2nd at the State Contest are invited to the national contest in College Park, MD. For more information, check out

One of the largest humanities councils in the nation, the Connecticut Humanities Council (CHC) nurtures thoughtful exploration of history and literature along with the cultural benefits of both. CHC’s reading programs benefit Connecticut citizens of all ages by opening up the world of books to children, encouraging reading as a family activity and engaging adults in thought provoking book discussions. CHC granting programs support the work of museums, historical societies and other cultural organizations that bring the stories of Connecticut’s past to life. This year, CHC will create or fund hundreds of cultural experiences and enrich the lives of residents and visitors statewide. For more information on the Connecticut Humanities Council and its programs, please visit or call (860) 685-7570.

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