Celebrating Connecticut’s Student Citizen Historians
(c) Connecticut Explored Inc., Winter 2022-23
In this issue, we’re honoring “citizen historians,” ordinary people who become experts on the past. Citizen historians investigate and take action on issues that are important to them. Some of the youngest scholars doing this work are the student citizen historians involved in Connecticut History Day.
Each year, more than 4,000 Connecticut students take part in History Day. Working independently or in groups, History Day students choose a topic and develop a project on an annual theme. State Coordinator Rebecca Taber describes the History Day philosophy as “student choice, student voice.” As Iniya Raja of South Windsor High School puts it, “I love that I am given a lot of freedom in the topic that I choose. Researching something that I am truly passionate about is especially conducive to learning.”
While History Day students explore a variety of topics, many gain a new appreciation for local connections. Emily Khym from Loomis Chaffee shared the findings of her project on the Armenian Genocide at St. George Armenian Church in Hartford. According to Emily, “my History Day experience allowed me to cross boundaries, connect with other communities, and use my research to be a voice for others.”
History Day students hone many skills while working on their projects, but they also have a lot of fun! Zachary Brody of Staples High School found the “competitive aspect challenging and exciting.” Julia Healey-Parera (E.O. Smith High School) notes that her participation in History Day “offered a medium for staying connected and exploring ideas with peers over the pandemic.”
For many of these student historians, the greatest lesson of History Day comes in becoming an active and informed citizen. According to Sia Reddy of Talcott Mountain Academy, understanding the past involves “listening to both sides of a story with an open mind, diving deep into evidence, and considering the historical context of the time period to understand and formulate your own opinion of what happened.”
Thanks to Connecticut History Day and its student citizen historians, the future of history seems to be in very good hands.
Read more about Connecticut History Day’s student citizen historians at https://www.ctexplored.org/student-citizen-historians/.
Students, learn more about Connecticut History Day and see how you can become one of our state’s student citizen historians: https://www.historydayct.org
Check out the Connecticut Explored archives for local topics related to the 2023 History Day theme, Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas: https://www.ctexplored.org/history-day-2023-idea-bank/
Adults, help support the next generation of citizen historians by volunteering as a History Day judge: https://www.historydayct.org/judges.html