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Kohler students compete in 2020 National History Day Contest

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kohler 7th grade students Rachel Yetzer and Taylor Brigham recently competed at “Nationals” in the National History Day® Contest, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, June 14-20.

The 2020 contest theme was Breaking Barriers in History, and this year’s unprecedented circumstances added an extra layer of meaning to the theme. Rachel and Taylor joined more than half a million students globally who completed projects in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Rachel created a documentary entitled Deinstitutionalizing  America: The Journey from Asylums to the Streets and Taylor created an Exhibit entitled Breaking Barriers Since 1933: Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The student’s teacher was Matthew P. Bayens.

After completing a project, students compete in a series of contests beginning at the local level. The top students from all 50 states, D.C., U.S. territories, and international schools are invited to compete in the National Contest.

“To make it to the National Contest in a normal year is a remarkable achievement,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “Given the added challenges facing students because of the coronavirus and nationwide school closures, I am even more impressed by what they have done this year. They have shown an incredible level of perseverance amid adversity, and I am confident we will continue to see great things from all of these students. The critical thinking and research skills learned through competing in NHD, especially now, will help these students achieve success in college and their careers.”

More than 300 historians and education professionals served as judges for the students’ work, and as with all other aspects of the contest this year, the judging was conducted remotely online. More than 100 students from across the country were awarded cash prizes between $500 and $2,000, each, for superior work in particular judging categories.

About National History Day® (NHD): NHD is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, The Better Angels Society, Jacqueline B. Mars, and BBVA. For more information, visit

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