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Fridley Public Schools
Student explains project to 3 judges

Eighth grade students presented their historical research projects at the History Day showcase at Fridley Middle School on Thursday, February 16. 

The school showcase is the first stage of the annual National History Day competition in which students in grades 6-12 participate nationwide. This year’s theme is “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.” Students are permitted to pick the medium of their project in one of five categories: exhibit board, documentary, website, performance, or research paper.

“Through the process of creating a History Day project, students learn a diverse set of skills that will be necessary for their success in future endeavors,” said Aaron Cuthbert, an 8th grade Individuals and Societies teacher at FMS.

The project allows students to put into practice the Middle Years Programme Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills that are fundamental to the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. ATL skills, which consist of self-management, communication, research, social and critical thinking skills, empower students to succeed and prepare them to pursue the rigorous IB Diploma Programme or IB Career-related Programme at Fridley High School.

Aaron Cuthbert talks to family

“Most of these students have never worked so hard on any individual task, whether academic or personal, up to this point in their lives,” Cuthbert observed. “They all really stress about the project and have moments of self-doubt, but through all of it they get a sense of satisfaction when they finish and get the opportunity to share what they have accomplished with the community.”

The showcase included 166 projects presented by 196 students. Each project was evaluated by a team of 2-4 judges made up of district faculty, community members, and seniors at FHS. Projects are judged in order to determine which will move on to the regional competition held in March. From there, students have the opportunity to progress to the state and national competitions – in which FMS has students participate each year, Cuthbert said.

Whether they strive to compete on a national level or simply see the project through to completion, Cuthbert emphasized that students should feel a sense of achievement because of how they grow through the experience.

“I’m very proud of them for fighting through the difficulties and anxieties of working on this project,” he said. “I’m proud of them for being successful, whether that means completing it, or learning something new, or developing skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.”