Less than 1 percent of all student projects make it to the national level of competition.

Denisse Córdova was among the 12 students in Texas to win at the 2016 National History Day.

[dropcap color=”#888″ type=”square”]T[/dropcap]he Texas State Board of Education recently recognized a student from MacArthur High School. Denisse Córdova won second place National History Day 2016 contest.

The [icons icon_name=”icon-external-link” icon_size=”14px”]National History Day (NHD) contest took place in June at the University of Maryland.


Denisse Córdova poses with her sponsor Julie Thoma and a NHD representative.

Each year, more than half a million students worldwide take part in the annual NHD contest. The 2016 theme was Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in History.

The annual theme gives students a chance to focus on a person, group or historical event. Their research of the past helps them gain a better understanding of our world today. The goal is that students develop an understanding of people and societies.

After completing a project, students compete in a series of history contests beginning at the local level. The top students in all 50 states, D.C., as well as several U.S. territories and international schools are given the opportunity to present their projects at the national contest.


Denisse Córdova poses (far left, second row) with the all the 2016 NHD winners from Texas.

Denisse is no stranger to the History Day competitions. She’s been competing since her days at Hambrick Middle School. In eighth grade, she competed in the [icons icon_name=”icon-external-link” icon_size=”14px”]2014 competition. Denisse reached the state event. But she placed seventh in the Individual Website category. Her project was “The Great Terror: The Suppressors of the Suppressed.” Her work earned her distinguished achievement honors. In 2015, Denisse won [icons icon_name=”icon-external-link” icon_size=”14px”]second place win at the state event in the Individual Website category. Her project was “Narkompros: Lunacharsky and Soviet Education.”

The 2016 contest marked Denisse’s first national win. Denisse competed in her favorite category: Individual Website category. Her award-winning project was titled, “Ada Lovelace, The Enchantress of Computing: Exploring the Beginnings of the Information Evolution.” Her sponsor was social studies teacher Julie Thoma. 

Click to view Denisse’s website project.


The work students put into these projects is astounding,” said NHD Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “To make it to the National Contest is an incredible accomplishment. Less than 1 percent of all projects make it to this level. It requires a superb level of research and critical thinking skills. I am confident we will continue to see great things from all these students because the skills learned through competing in NHD help prepare students for success in college and career.”


Denisse Córdova is presented with the silver medal at the 2016 NHD contest.


The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future. — Theodore Roosevelt

History is more than mere facts and dates. Students learn to dig deeper into historical content to develop perspective and understanding.

How Does Taking Part in History Fair Benefit Students?

The history fair program prepares students for college by developing research and communication skills. Students also increase their understanding of history while honing decision-making skills.

There is research to back the value of taking part in history fair programs. A nationwide study in 2011 concluded that students who participate in the program do well in school. The study included Aldine ISD.

National-History-Day-LogoThe study shows that NHD students perform better on high-stakes tests. The students develop into better writers as well as more confident and capable researchers. Student also develop a more mature perspective on current events. They are also have higher civic engagement than their peers.

Other skills gained include collaboration, time management and perseverance. These are all skills employers say are lacking in today’s workforce.

NHD Works: A Few Findings From the Study

[ul class=”list list-search”] [li]NHD students outperform their non-NHD peers on state standardized tests. Not only do they do better in social studies, but in reading, science and math as well.[/li] [li]NHD students are better writers, who write with a purpose and real voice. They collect solid evidence to support their point of view. [/li][/ul][ul class=”list list-search”] [li]NHD students are critical thinkers who can digest, analyze and synthesize information.[/li][/ul]

History not only teaches students about the stories of our past, but is vital to creating a generation of young people who can apply these lessons to the future. — Cokie Roberts, Author & Journalist

MacArthur made U.S. News & World Report’s Best High School 2015 Rankings. The National Center for Urban School Transformation recognized MacArthur in 2013. The campus has also received recognition from the National Center for Educational Achievement. MacArthur also made Niche’s Top 100 High Schools in Houston.