South Carolina Students Shine at National History Day Contest

Fifty-eight students whose entries had won first or second place at the South Carolina History Contest traveled to Maryland in June to represent the Palmetto State at the National History Day Competition. Eleven South Carolina students brought home top honors from this prestigious national event, which is held each June at the University of Maryland. SC Humanities supported National History Day in South Carolina with a Major Grant.

National History Day is a year-long academic program for elementary and secondary school students focused on the teaching and learning of history. A recent study by Rockman, et al found students who participate in National History Day develop a range of college and career-ready skills, and have been shown to outperform their peers on state standardized tests in multiple subjects, including reading, science, math and social studies. South Carolina students competed this year against more than 2,900 other students from the United States and International National History Day Programs from American Samoa, Guam, China, Korea and South Asia.

This year’s theme was Leadership and Legacy, and South Carolina’s top national winners were:

Adriana Ballinger
3th Place Winner
Junior Individual Website (out of 98 websites in the division and category)
John Muir: Leadership and Legacy in Establishing and Preserving National Parks
Buist Academy, Charleston County
Teacher: Maury Goodloe

Arnav Lal
Most Outstanding Project on the History of Immigration
Max Heller: Going Beyond the American Dream
The Sterling School, Greenville, SC
Teacher: Martha Bohnenberger
**As a part of his research, Lal interviewed the late Max Heller’s wife who told him for her birthday that she “wanted him to bring home a prize for all his hard work on the project about her husband.” Happy Birthday, Mrs. Heller!

Image: Arnav Lal’s exhibit about Max Heller

Caroline and Erin Todd
Most Outstanding Project on Civil Rights
Septima Poinsette Clark: Equality Beyond the Blackboard
Conway Middle School, Horry County
Teacher: Amy Porter
**This recognition was particularly meaningful to the entire Palmetto State, where a race-related tragedy had taken place in Charleston just hours before the awards ceremony.

Atley Livingston and Glenn Courtney
Outstanding Junior Group Project
Website: Mary McLeod Bethune: Forever Fighting Educational Discrimination
Conway Middle School, Horry County
Teacher: Amy Porter

Benjamin Cripe and Neil Smith
Outstanding Senior Group Project
Website: Basil O’Connor: March to Find the Cure
York County Homeschoolers
Teacher: Laura Cripe

Based on his very well-produced documentary on William Moultrie, Christoph Tagenhorst of Ocean Bay Middle School in Horry County was invited to represent South Carolina at a special breakfast hosted by the National Endowment for the Humanities on Capital Hill. His teachers Marion Tousel and Billy Gainus joined him at the event.

Middle school students Benjamin Buckley, Camryn Beaufort and Tatiyana Adkins (teacher: Lisa Hakamiun) at Palmetto Scholars Academy in Charleston represented South Carolina by displaying their Junior Group Exhibit: Septima Clark’s Citizenship Schools at a special tribute event held at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

“Our students have not only deepened their understanding of their chosen topics, but have also been energized by learning. This program truly encourages them to become well-rounded students and confident, contributing members of our society,” said National History Day in South Carolina State Coordinator, Mary Katherine Marshall. Each year I am heartened by the excitement, pride and scholarship our South Carolina students exhibit during the National History Day competition. Our students immerse themselves in research about defining moments from our past, while honing critical skills they will need to succeed in college and beyond. I wish to thank all of the teachers and volunteers who are committed to this effort and congratulate all of our outstanding student participants.”

For more information on supporting the program, please contact the National History Day in South Carolina office office at 843-374-0266.

About National History Day:
National History Day is a year-long academic organization for elementary and secondary school students. Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local and state levels and evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in a national competition each June at the University of Maryland. Visit

About SC Humanities:
The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. SC Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflecting sensitivity to the diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations.

Image (Top): Benjamin B., Camryn B., and Tatiyana A. from Palmetto Scholars Academy in Charleston, SC represented South Carolina at the Night Out at the Museum event hosted at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Also pictured is their teacher Lisa Hakamiun. Photo courtesy of National History Day in South Carolina.