One of Bedford High School’s signature annual academic exhibitions is scheduled to take place on Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the school library.
The 19th Winter History Fair, sponsored by the BHS Social Studies Department, is a public exhibition of projects prepared by students in the high-honors United States II history classes.
And for students who wish, the event is also the gateway to state and national competitions – arenas in which BHS has established itself as a powerhouse for almost 20 years.
Patrick Culhane, the U.S. II history teacher, explained that the class projects are tied to National History Day (NHD), a nonprofit organization that promotes the learning and teaching of history.
“The core of the program is a nationwide National History Day competition,” explained Culhane, who is also advisor to the high school’s NHD team. “NHD provides a theme around which students conduct historical research in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, performance, paper, or website.”
The 2022-2023 theme is “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.”
Beginning in September, Culhane said, “students engage in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics related to the theme, while honing their creative talents producing original presentations.” Students may work individually or in groups of up to five.
Following Thursday’s History Fair, some of the participants will “continue working on their projects as an extracurricular activity with the intention of submitting those projects in the NHD competition,” first at the regional level in early March, Culhane said. BHS competes in the Central-West Massachusetts District.
Projects that are judged among the three best in their respective categories qualify for the state round, Culhane said, usually held in early April. The Massachusetts event “features the top projects in each category from around the state.”
Entries that place first or second move on to the ultimate competitive round: National History Day, hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park in mid-June. First, second, and third place medals are awarded in each category as well as several special awards and a few college scholarships.
“At each level, projects are judged on historical quality, connection to theme and quality of presentation,” Culhane said.
Over the years, “We have established ourselves as among the strongest programs in the state and have had several winners at the district, state, and national contests,” Culhane said, adding that, regardless of competition, “NHD is an exciting way for students to study and learn about historical issues, ideas, people and events.”