History Day competition draws hundreds of students to Constitution Center

Hadas Kuznits
March 13, 2019 - 2:08 pm
Philadelphia School District students show off their research projects at the National Constitution Center for National History Day.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Hundreds of Philadelphia School District students interested in history are showing off their research projects Wednesday and Thursday at the National Constitution Center for National History Day.

"Behind me right now is a bunch of exhibits that the kids have all put together on this year's theme: Triumph and Tragedy," said Kerry Sautner, the center's chief learning officer. "As our visitors are walking around, they don't even know what this day is! They get to learn more history than any other day of the year!"

Sautner said about 20 different schools are involved.

"These kids have been in competitions in their schools for their best top projects," she said. "The amount of research that they do on this is unbelievable. They have to use primary sources; they have to get outside of their school; they go into the community, they do interviews."

Kerry Sautner is chief learning officer at the National Consittution Center.
Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

"I chose Lucretia Mott because she stuck by her beliefs of pacifism, feminism and abolitionism," said 14-year-old Cameron Riddell, one of about 650 students presenting projects over the course of two days.

Asked what was the most surprising thing he learned in his research, he said, "I didn't know that women weren't actually allowed to speak out during conventions at the time, which is why she organized the Seneca Falls Convention."

Shariah Street of Constitution High presented a project on the triumph and tragedy of school integration. "We featured the Little Rock Nine and Ruby Bridges," Street said.

Antonio Rodriguez Jr. Of Lincoln High School presented a project on Black soldiers during the Civil War.

"How it was like to be a black soldier during that time," Rodriguez said. "It definitely was a lot worse than what people initially think of."

Sautner said, "What I find that the kids tend to do on these projects, I'd find the lesser-known stories, and that's important for history, because a lot of times you're not getting the whole picture."

Students with the best projects move on to the state and later the national competitions.